Mauritania, a large but sparsely populated country in northwestern Africa, has a rich musical tradition but virtually no formal music industry. That means no commercial radio stations. No record labels. No music clubs. Only one studio exists in the entire country.
Instead of pursuing recording careers, most musicians do what they’ve done for centuries: perform for people in public gatherings.
A new compilation of Mauritanian guitar music released by Latitude Records, an imprint of Chicago indie label Locust Music, captures some of these raw live performances, rarely heard outside the Maghreb. It’s called Wallahi le Zein!! Wezin, Jankwar and Guitar Boogie from the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Jerome and Radio M host Tony Sarabia talk to the album's curator, Matthew Lavoie, a former host of the Voice of America program Music Time in Africa.
1. Baba ould Hembara – "El Shams w'al Qamar"
2. Kebrou – "Banjey 'Boogie'"
3. Jeich ould Chighaly – "Wezin"
4. Kweli ould Seyyid & Kleyhid ould Meylid – "Gav"
5. Baba ould Hembara – "il Leyla"
6. Kweli ould Seyyid & Klayhid ould Meylid – "Wezin"