Supergroup 3MA brings true African sound to Bay Area show

With territory that could contain Europe three times, Africa is a vast realm marked by tremendous cultural and ethnic diversity. But if you want to hear what a confluence of the continent’s disparate music traditions sounds like, start with triumvirate 3MA, which plays its only Bay Area date Jan. 21 at Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage.

Something of a supergroup, the acoustic trio includes Malian kora master Ballaké Sissoko, an expert at cross-cultural collaborations. Madagascar’s Rajery is the reigning prince of the valiha, a 21-string tubular zither made from bamboo that defines the island nation’s national music. And oud maestro Driss El Maloumi, a Moroccan musician of Berber origin, has spent the past two decades touring and recording with renowned viola da gamba player Jordi Savall’s Hespèrion XXI ensemble.

The trio released an eponymous album on San Francisco-based Six Degrees Records back in 2008 and followed up with 2017’s equally striking “Anarouz.” They all faced doubters at home, but after earning international esteem 3MA has helped invigorate traditional forms endangered by the persistent lure of Western pop.

“In our countries the three of us were initially considered a bit mad because we shook up musical traditions,” El Maloumi told Songlines magazine. “In fact we respected them. We were simply looking towards other cultures. Now, surprisingly we are seen as a new wave by the youth who want to play our instruments.”

Details: 8 p.m.; $15-$30; 510-644-2020, www.thefreight.org.

Show More
Back to top button