Jazz Sounds of Africa by Ahmed Abdul-Malik

The song “La Ibkey” is performed on the oud. Here the influences of Arab culture and music are reflected. However, the percussion sounds underneath are African. The trumpet solo is in keeping with American jazz.  Beginning by 900 CE, Islam spread throughout West Africa, spread via trade, as the nomadic Tuareg became the “middle men” of a trans-Saharan trade in salt, gold and books. Salt from the Sahara was traded for West African gold (in Mali and Nigeria in particular). Eventually a university arose in Timbuktu–as the written word (Arabic) became part of this vast exchange. Naturally, musical ideas and instruments made their way across the thousands of miles as well. Ahmed Abdul-Malik captures this rich heritage and combines it with straight-ahead jazz in the album Jazz Sounds of Africa, recorded in the early 1960s. Cultural diffusion of this type can be seen in other areas as well. Click here for musical instruments spread along the Silk Road.

Click here for more from Abdul-Malik


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