Celtic folk meets Malian mandingue, blues, jazz, ambient music and more…
Alba Griot Ensemble is an acoustic folk band, consisting of two Scottish guitarists, Mark Mulholland and Craig Ward, the Belgian double bassist Hannes d’Hoine and the Malian n’goni player and percussionist Yacouba Sissoko. All four musicians sing, and the combination of intricate, intermingled strings, complex melodies and rhythms, and strong vocal harmonies, blends influences from Celtic and Mandingue traditions with blues, jazz and ambient elements. The live line-up also includes percussionist Baba Sissoko and American guitarist and banjo player Sean Condron.
The band started with the duo of Mark Mulholland and Craig Ward, who were later joined by the Belgian double-bass player Hannes d’Hoine. Their album, “Waiting for the Storm”, was released in 2012 to critical acclaim, accompanied by several successful tours of Europe.
In 2014, Mark moved to Bamako, Mali, where he has been collaborating with many of the fantastic musicians there, particularly the multi-instrumentalist Yacouba Sissoko, with whom he has been playing regularly. Fascinated by the ways in which music inspired by the British folk tradition could be combined with Mali’s rich musical heritage, the four musicians decided to form a band, and recorded an album, “The Darkness between the Leaves”, with the producer David Odlum, combining sessions in Scotland, Paris and Bamako, and featuring guest appearances from the afro-beat legend Tony Allen, the kora maestros Toumani Diabate and Madou Sidiki Diabate, singer Pamela Badjogo, balafonist Lassana Diabate, percussionist Baba Sissoko, and keyboard player Jean-Philippe Dary.