Please enjoy the livestream of this performance, starting at 7 PM.

Performance: Al Bilali Soudan
Thursday, October 13 2022 at 7PM
22 LONDON at 22 London Rd. | Simulcast to Vimeo

From Tombouctou/Timbuktu in Northern Mali, Al Bilali Soudan is an extended family of musicians and craftsmen who, for generations, have been sought after artists and griots. Their quintessentially Tamasheq music style of the tehardant is shaped by a continuous exchange between three-stringed traditional instruments and a relentless percussive calabash rhythm.

This music has been performed from at least the 16th century by Touareg griots to celebrate the change of seasons, to encourage warriors and to welcome them back from battle. In sharp contrast to Tuareg contemporaries, Al Bilali Soudan preserve an acoustic, stripped-down approach to Tamashek culture.

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The group elder is Abellaw Yattara who first learned the instrument from his father. He is accompanied by his uncle, Aboubacrine Yattara. These two form the core of the group and have been performing together for decades. They are joined by their sons Mohamed Ag Abellaw and Ibrahim Ag Aboubacrine who bring a new generation to the music. The group’s pride in their cultural heritage is manifest in the verve and complexity that they find in these deceptively simple instruments. Lightning fast, sometimes looping, this is an intense mastery of an improvised repertoire adapted to 21st century times.

The group takes its name from their hometown, Timbuktu, a center of Islamic learning and home of descendants of Bilal ibn Rabah born in Mecca in 580. A former slave, Bilal is said to have been chosen by the Prophet Mohammad as the first muezzin. The story of Bilal is often cited as demonstrating Islam’s view that the measure of a person is not their nationality nor social status nor race but their piety. Soudan refers to the region’s history of French colonialism.