Pieces of Africa

Kronos Quartet


“Where on any other string-quartet performance would you find the basic ensemble of two violins, viola, and cello complemented by an exotic array of African instruments, including delicate percussion and extravagantly designed strings? Or complemented by a gospel choir? Or with solo singers? It’s all here, and the results are, mostly, sheer enchantment… The main difference between the Kronos and the rest of the chamber-music world, in fact, seems to be that — defying all traditions of string-quartet behavior — the Kronos folks always seem to be having fun. Pieces of Africa zestfully proclaims that… The record is pure Kronos: delightful, imaginative, out-of-the-way music played with the same loving care the group might lavish on a Beethoven quartet, if they ever decided to play one.”

Alan Rich, Entertainment Weekly

About the album

1993 Edison Prize – Classical Music

A showcase of African-born composers, Pieces of Africa was a cross-cultural and commercial landmark: the first album to top both the classical and world music Billboard charts. Nonesuch Records reissued the album in 2016 on vinyl (2 x 140-gram LPs) for the first time.

Kronos’ David Harrington on the album: “When I really think about it, I realize that it actually goes back to when I was in the tenth grade at Roosevelt High School in Seattle. In that school’s music room, there was a great record collection that included, among other things, a number of recordings from various places in Africa. In particular, some music from Ghana really touched me… When I first heard that African music, I just thought, Wow, I want my violin to have that kind of a sound someday” (from his 2014 conversation with Jonathan Cott for the Kronos Explorer Series liner notes). “It took 20 years to establish a small repertoire of African composers for Kronos, which ultimately resulted in the album Pieces of Africa” (from his 2018 folk radio interview).


Kronos Quartet
David Harrington, violin
John Sherba, violin
Hank Dutt, viola
Joan Jeanrenaud, cello

Dumisani Maraire, ngoma, hosho, lead vocal, mbira
Hassan Hakmoun, lead vocal, sintir
Radouane Laktib, oud, vocal
Said Hakmoun, bander, vocal
Foday Musa Suso, kora
Hamza El Din, tar
Obo Addy, donno, brekete, pretia, aketse, gidi, vocal
Dan Pauli, hosho
Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, Terrence Kelly, director

Produced by Judith Sherman and Kronos Quartet
Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz

  1. Mai Nozipo (feat. Dumisani Maraire)
    Composed by Dumisani Maraire
  2. Saade (I’m Happy) (feat. Hassan Hakmoun, Radouane Laktib, Said Hakmoun)
    Composed by Hassan Hakmoun, realized by Itaal Shur and Richard Horowitz
  3. Tilliboyo (Sunset) (feat. Foday Musa Suso)
    Composed by Foday Musa Suso
  4. Ekitundu Ekisooda (First Movement)
    Composed by Justinian Tamusuza
  5. Escalay (Water Wheel) (feat. Hamza El Din)
    Composed by Hamza El Din, realized by Tohru Ueda
  6. Wawshishijay (Our Beginning) (feat. Obo Addy)
    Composed by Obo Addy, realized by Chris Baum
  7. White Man Sleeps: I.
  8. White Man Sleeps: II.
  9. White Man Sleep: III.
  10. White Man Sleep: IV.
  11. White Man Sleep: V.
    Composed by Kevin Volans
  12. Kutambarara (Spreading) (feat. Dumisani Maraire, Dan Pauli, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir)
    Composed by Dumisani Maraire

Released by Nonesuch Records



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