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photos by Robert Altman

Oliver Mtukudzi / Fatoumata Diawara
Oliver Mtukudzi & the Black Spirits
Fatoumata Diawara

Over the last decade Globalfest has presented 21st-century world music as an accelerating fusion, a recombinant free-for-all of local traditions meeting ideas and technologies from afar. It's a realistic view of how musicians work; very few are purists. And some hybrids have grown durable enough to feel like traditions of their own.

That's how it was with this year's superb African contingent at Globalfest: Oliver Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe, who has been making albums since the 1970s, and Fatoumata Diawara, born in Ivory Coast to Malian parents and now living in France.

Mr. Mtukuzdi and his band, the Black Spirits, have perfected a family of light-fingered grooves. They translate traditional thumb-piano patterns into guitar picking that becomes the mainspring of three-chord rock songs, with Mr. Mtukudzi's hearty voice singing benign messages and prayers for better times. Ms. Diawara, who is both a singer and dancer, draws on her parents' regional heritage -- Wassoulou music -- for tightly wound, triple-time modal grooves that she pushes toward funk and rock. Songs like "Kele" ("War") took on a special urgency from the current civil war in Mali. [NY Times]

globalFEST 2013 went down at all three stages of Webster Hall on Sunday (1/13). We checked out the main stage portion and caught sets by Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits, Fatoumata Diawara, Kayhan Kalhor & Erdal Erzincan, The Stooges Brass Band, and Mucca Pazza. More pictures of those artists and some videos from the fest are below.

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