As we rubbed our eyes of a nights worth of sleepy dust and desert sand Imran rummaged to find the ringing mobile phone. It was Bassekou’s brother (and fellow band member) Foussyeni, who had recently become our Malian uncle. Fousseyni seemed his normal relaxed self, though it seemed quite alarming he should be calling at 9am given the life of almost every Bamako musician we knew remained exclusively nocturnal. Then Fousseyni explained that our flight was leaving in half an hour.
As we rushed into the airport building, looking a little bedraggled, we realized the flight would not be leaving for some time and sat down to enjoy a post-festival jam.
Engulfed in his grand boubou, Amanou of the band ‘Tartit’, played the three stringed Tamasheq ngoni bringing the sound of the desert into the departure lounge. Next to him Dimitri from the headlining band ‘Dinamitri Jazz Folklore’ added sensitive melodies and solos influenced by his Italian heritage and jazz background.
As Mikaela improvised vocal lines Amkoullel reminded us all of the young and energetic face of Mali, his Bambara lyrics fusing into the mix. Tiwitine later took Imran’s guitar adding the rich tones of North Mali’s musical culture.
For us this was a jam session where the challenges of collaborating with such different musical styles melted away. With such sensitive contributors, we found ourselves, as so often has been the case on this journey, surrounded by a supportive and welcoming circle of musicians.
Outside the tama (talking drum) spoke to the air as dancers from various bands moved like fire, some barefoot, some in killer heels. They moved fast on the hot tarmac, showing us all their passion extended way beyond a ten-minute choreographed performance.
Eventually, as we boarded the plane for Bamako, we couldn’t help but will our delay to continue. Just for another hour or so…