Original members of the Malian supergroup Salif Keita, Cheick Tidiane Seck and Amadou Bagayoko (of Amadou & Mariam) reunite to revisit their pioneering blend of salsa, jazz, soul, rock ’n’ roll and the ancient art of the griots.

From 1970 to 1985, the iconic Malian band Les Ambassadeurs wrote and rewrote the rule book for the Manding pop sound that drove the world music boom of the 1980s and 1990s with a collection of songs forged from the dreams and tensions of post-Independence West Africa: socialism, pan-Africanism, black pride, authenticité. The reunion of Les Ambassadeurs is a banner headline long dreamt of by Malians, West Africans and lovers of African music the world over. What the band’s surviving singers and instrumentalists are preparing to deliver when they stroll on stage is more than just nostalgia for a time when Mali was young and full of of hope and possibility, more than an excuse to rekindle past friendships and relive old glories, and more than an hour or two of unforgettable Malian orchestral pop. What Les Ambassadeurs will deliver is proof that Malian musicians, given the right conditions and support, can create truly revolutionary music.

“One of Africa’s most celebrated bands” —The Guardian


Some bands score a few hits, some change the face of music and some end up defining an entire era. Les Ambassadeurs did all three. Les Ambassadeurs, originally a big band from Mali, formed in the early 1970s and led by Salif Keita, took part into the new wave of African bands who paved the way for the worldbeat explosion of the late ’80s. During their decade and half of existence, from 1970 to 1985, this West African supergroup wrote and rewrote the rule book for the Manding pop that achieved worldwide success during the world music boom of the 80s and 90s. They gave the young Malian everyman and everywoman a chance to reconcile their instinctive pride in West Africa’s illustrious past with their equally instinctive desire to be fully engaged in the modern world. “Above all”, says Salif Keita, Les Ambassadeurs’ most famous ‘son’, “they taught Malians to love their own music.”

Every successful Malian musician is an ambassador for their nation, because as the great griot Toumani Diabate once famously said, “Music is our cotton, our gold and our diamonds.” But les Ambassadeurs weren’t only true ambassadors: they were a pioneering institution, a school through which the greatest Malian musical talent of the late 20th century passed before going on to conquer the world, a symbol of Mali’s enduring potential as a musical powerhouse.

“The band who put Mali on the world music map” —The Times