World Circuit (record label)
World Circuit is a world-music record label, established in London in the mid-1980s, that specializes in Cuban and West African recording artists, among other international music stars. The label's credo was to be an ‘artist led’ label with all aspects of each release tailored to the artist. Twenty years later, this is still key to how World Circuit operate. World Circuit celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2006 by releasing World Circuit Presents..., a 2-disc retrospective compilation album. Its recordings are distributed by Nonesuch/Elektra Records in the USA.
1986 to 1999
World Circuit’s first taste of major success was with the teaming of Ali Farka Touré and Ry Cooder on the 1993, Grammy award winning album, Talking Timbuktu. The album went onto sell over a million copies worldwide; an incredible feat for an album of its kind.
During the mid-nineties World Circuit began working with new artists, who would go on to become long-time label stalwarts. Moving away from their usual Latin and West African bias, World Circuit released the album ‘Rumba Argelina’ by Spanish group Radio Tarifa. ‘Rumba Argelina’ propelled them to cult fame, becoming a sensation across Europe. Another artist to make an immediate impact was Senegalese multi-instrumentalist and singer Cheikh Lô. The dreadlocked maverick’s debut album ‘Ne La Thiass’ was produced by Youssou N’Dour, and is underpinned by indigenous Mbalax and Flamenco rhythms.
In 1996, American guitarist, Ry Cooder was invited to Havana by British world-music producer Nick Gold of the World Circuit record label to record a session with two African High-life musicians from Mali in collaboration with Cuban musicians. On Cooder's arrival (via Mexico to avoid the ongoing U.S. trade and travel embargo against Cuba), it transpired that the musicians from Africa had not received their visas and were unable to travel to Havana. Cooder and Gold changed their plans and decided to record an album of Cuban Son Cubano music with local musicians., who became The Buena Vista Social Club. Their eponymous multi million selling first album was recorded at Egrem studios, Havana and mixed by Jerry Boys and Nick Gold at Livingston Studios, London. They released it on the World Circuit label in 1997. In 2008 World Circuit released a 2-CD set of the Buena Vista Social Club live performance at Carnegie Hall recorded in 1998.
Nick Gold met Jerry Boys after working together on an album with Oumou Sangaré during 1993 and they started to work together with the Buena Vista Social Club afterward. In 2001 Gold bought the Livingston Recording Studios from Boys, which enabled most of World Circuit's artists to record and mix music at Livingston Studios.
Nick Gold and World Circuit are also responsible for catapulting the legendary Senegalese band Orchestre Baobab to world fame after its 2001 re-release of the 1982 record Pirates Choice in Europe (originally compiled and released by World Circuit in 1987).
2000 to 2009
In the summer of 2004 the World Circuit team of Nick Gold and Jerry Boys travelled with a mobile studio to Mali to record a trilogy of albums at the Hotel Mandé, Bamako. The first album in the series, ‘In the Heart of the Moon’, released in June 2005, is a collaboration between Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate that went on to win a Grammy award in the category of Best Traditional World Music Album. Second in the series is Boulevard de l’Indépendance by Toumani Diabaté’s pan-African Symmetric Orchestra. The Symmetric Orchestra led by Toumani Diabaté is composed of musicians (mostly griots) from the across the old Mande Empire of west Africa, who play a mix of traditional instruments including the kora, djembe, balafon and bolombatto, as well as guitar and electronic keyboard.
The third and final part of the Mandé Sessions trilogy, Savane (released, July 2006), was also the first posthumous Ali Farka Touré release. It was received with wide acclaim by professionals and fans alike and has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the category "Best Contemporary World Music Album". The panel of experts from the World Music Chart Europe (WMCE), a chart voted by the leading World Music specialists around Europe, chose Savane as their Album of the Year 2006, with the album topping the chart for three consecutive months (September to November 2006). The album has also been listed as No. 1 in the influential Metacritic’s "Best Albums of 2006" poll, and No. 5 in its all-time best reviewed albums.
2010 to Present
In February 2010, World Circuit released the successor to Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate's, In The Heart Of The Moon (2005), Ali and Toumani. Recorded over three afternoons at Livington Studios, London, in 2005, with contributions from Orlando Cachaito Lopez on bass, and produced by Nick Gold, it was Toure's final studio album, and lasting legacy.
In October 2010, World Circuit released Afrocubism's self-titled debut, a long-awaited collaboration between some of Cuba's and Mali's most esteemed musicians, including Eliades Ochoa, Bassekou Kouyate, Toumani Diabate, Lassana Diabate and Kasse Mandy Diabate. It was a collaboration which was initially intended to take place some 15 years earlier, but never arose as a result of visa complications. In December 2011 the album Afrocubism was nominated for a Grammy award in the category of Best Traditional World Music Album.
- "Interview with Ry Cooder in Los Angeles", by Betty Arcos, host, "The Global Village" Pacifica Radio 27 June 2000. Buena Vista Social Club site. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Retrieved 18 March 2007.
- "Hurricane Cooder hits Cuba". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 March 2007
- The Buena Vista Social Club at allmusic
- Livingstone Recording Studios Nick Gold and Jerry Boys
- Frank Bessem, "Musiques d'Afrique: Orchestre Baobab"
Lucy Duran, "Orchestra Baobab," World Music Central
- Chabasseur, Eglantine (7 April 2006). "Malian Music – Toumani Diabaté". RFI Musique. Retrieved 25 June 2007.
- World Music Chart Europe: Charts
- Metacritic: Best of 2006
- Metacritic: All-Time High And Low Scores