The songwriter and guitarist Sidi Touré is a superstar in his native Mali. But in the last 18 months, it hasn't been easy for Malian artists.
Islamic extremists are fighting for control of the area around Timbuktu, in the northern part of the country. The violence, along with a rebel-imposed ban on both music and secular art, has forced many of Mali's artists to flee the country.
Sidi Touré, who is from the North, was in the middle of recording his latest album when all this started happening.
Mike Doughty spent the 1990s as the gravel-voiced frontman for Soul Coughing. Fusing elements of pop, jazz, hip-hop and house music, the band had a sound all its own — but Doughty says he was never satisfied with it.
Latin jazz works best when the musicians involved are as fluent in Afro-Cuban rhythms as they are in the deep grooves and advanced harmonics of bebop. Arturo O'Farrill has that pedigree in his DNA: His father, Chico O'Farrill, was part of a groundbreaking group of musicians who created the mash-up of Afro-Cuban music and jazz back in late-'40s New York.