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Out & About in Switzerland: Basel welcomes world music

Miriam Makeba performing at a benefit concert in Zurich two years ago


The Avo Session music festival kicks off this year with a performance by the "Grand Old Lady" of African pop music, Miriam Makeba.

She'll be joined by a who's who of blues, soul and world music at the Messe in Basel from November 3 to 12.

Makeba's "Pata Pata", released in 1967, is considered the best-known African song, along with "Wimoweh". It's been said that her "powerful and distinctive voice retains the clarity and range that enables it to be both as forceful as a protest march and as poignant as an African lullaby".

Another African star, who will be celebrating the diversity of sounds from West Africa, is the Senegalese performer, Youssou N'Dour. He will be joined on stage by the up -and-coming singer from Mali, Rokia Traoré.

Her more meditative approach, which is influenced by Mali's Saharan landscape, will provide an interesting contrast to N'Dour's lively brand of Senegalese "Mbalax" music.

The best of Black American music will be represented by none other than Ray Charles, James Brown and Taj Mahal. Joining Taj Mahal will be guitarist, David Lindley. His offbeat style will make it difficult for Taj Mahal's Phantom Blues Band to play it straight.

The Dutch Swing College Band and the Swiss Dixie All Stars will be on hand for a tribute to the formative days of jazz. An evening of country music is also on the bill, featuring Emmylou Harris and Calvin Russell.

Rounding out the Avo Session will be the Italian instrumentalist, Angelo Branduardi, and the Norwegian saxophonist, Jan Garbarek. Branduardi's latest work is influenced by the poems of St Francis of Assisi, while Garbarek's melodies reveal traces of various forms of music by indigenous cultures. His latest CD is entitled "Rites".

The Avo Session is the brainchild of Avo Uvezian, a pianist who played with all the great jazz musicians in the 1950s and 1960s. His love of cigars led him to start a successful career in the 1980s, when he developed his own brand of premium cigars.


Out & About in Switzerland is updated regularly to keep you informed of upcoming events, which may provide a different insight into the country and its people.

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