News Maharishi in the World Today

How We Present
the News

Saint-Louis festival takes jazz back to African roots
by Emma Farge

Reuters    Translate This Article
12 June 2014

SAINT-LOUIS, Senegal (Reuters) - Once a lively French colonial trading port, the sleepy city of Saint-Louis in West Africa's Senegal bursts into life for just a few days a year during the annual summer jazz festival.

From dusk, jazz from the open-air concert blends with African rhythms, and drifts off the shores of the tiny island where the festival is held down the normally tranquil banks of the Senegal River.

This year's headline act, African-American blues singer Lucky Peterson, would be hard pressed to find a venue more evocative of the suffering of slaves transported to the Americas, widely thought to have inspired the blues more than 100 years ago, than Saint-Louis.

The pastel-colored, rectangular shops and houses lining the river were once the warehouses for gum, ivory as well as slaves, bound for the Atlantic trade.

But Peterson, a former child star who says he plays blues 'with a touch of jazz, a touch of soul, a touch of funk and a touch of gospel', was anything but melancholic on the closing night of the festival on Sunday.

Initially hidden behind dark shades, Peterson opened on the keys with a more than 10-minute cover of Johnny Nash's 'I Can See Clearly Now', occasionally needling the few audience members still sitting stiff in their chairs.

He then reached for a cherry-red electric guitar for an adrenaline-filled two-hour set peppered with numbers from his new album 'The Son of a Bluesman', prompting a heartfelt encore.

'Lucky was like a man possessed. The energy was streaming out of his pores,' Ibrahima Diop, the festival president, said.


Organizers have been seeking to boost the participation of local artists, partly to break down the local perception that jazz and blues music, despite humble origins, is elitist.

Senegalese jazz guitarist Herve Samb was invited back to Saint-Louis after last playing at the festival alongside Peterson in 1993 when he was just 14 years old.

'The goal was to bring back together two exceptional guitarists 20 years afterwards. This year's edition is all about the comeback,' said Mame Birame Seck, who selects the artists.

Twisting his hips in serpentine motions, Samb performed long, emotional call-and-response sessions with his saxophonist and drummer. Among the instruments in his band was the 'Sabar' - a traditional west African drum set originally used to communicate between villages many kilometers apart.

'He played his butt off,' said Peterson, summing up Samb's performance afterwards.

For Samb, jazz, which began as a fusion between African and European rhythms, can still be inspired by African music.

'Many fusion projects are driven by musicians outside of African culture who don't know our music in depth. It needs to be reversed so it's driven by us,' he told Reuters.

The 'comeback' theme also applies to the event itself. Now in its 22nd year, Africa's biggest jazz festival has in the past seen greats like Herbie Hancock but audience numbers had dipped in recent years amid budget constraints.

While the budget this year was 'just a sliver' of the 205 million CFA Franc ($424,800) that was sought, according to Diop, ticket sales have climbed in 2014 to around 5,000 and hotels were booked months in advance.

'We lost the confidence of a lot of our partners and now they are coming back,' Seck said.

($1 = 482.5300 Central African Cfa Franc Beacs)

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Michael Roddy and Alexandra Hudson)

© Copyright 2014 Reuters

Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. 'Reuters' and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies. For additional information on other Reuters media services please visit

Every day Global Good News documents the rise of a better quality of life dawning in the world from good news reported by the press; and highlights the need for introducing Natural Law based-Total Knowledge based-programmes to bring the support of Nature to every individual, raise the quality of life of every society, and create a lasting state of world peace.

Translation software is not perfect; however if you would like to try it, you can translate this page using:

(Altavista babelfish)

Send Good News to Global Good News.

Your comments.

cultural news more

World News | Genetic Engineering | Education | Business | Health News

Search | Global News | Agriculture and Environmental News | Business News
Culture News | Education News | Government News | Health News
Science and Technology News | World Peace | Maharishi Programmes
Press Conferences | Transcendental Meditation | Celebration Calendars | Gifts
News by Country | News in Pictures | What's New | Modem/High Speed | RSS/XML