All musician photos by Balko Studio

Kadialy Kouyate - Kora, Vocals, Sabar

Cath Carr - Steelpans, Guitar

Avital Raz - Vocals

Guery Tibirica - Berimbau, Percussions, Capoeira

Sarah Yaseen - Vocals

Mina Salama - Oud, Ney & Kawala Flutes, Vocals

Tony Koni - Bass Guitar, Sabar

Johnny Ball - Tablas, Derbuka

Sister Elements - Vocals

Vijay Venkat - Violin






May 19 SHEFFIELD DINA Festival of Debate
May 26 SHEFFIELD MOOR Global Soundtracks
July 14 ISLE OF WIGHT Rhythmtree Festival
July 19 MELVICH Village Hall, Scotland
July 20 LYTH Arts Centre, Scotland
July 28 WOMAD Charlton Park
July 29 WOMAD Charlton Park
Aug 27 SHREWSBURY Folk Festival
Sept 29 SHEFFIELD Festival of the Mind
Oct 13 MANCHESTER Journeys International Festival
Oct 14 MORECAMBE Hothouse
Oct 18 NOTTINGHAM New Art Exchange
Oct 21 LONDON Jukebox
Nov 05 SHEFFIELD Crucible Theatre



Rafiki Jazz owes its name and something of its style to those classic post-colonial African dance bands that mixed the roots with the latest from across the Atlantic...Bembeya Jazz, TPOK Jazz, Shirati Jazz...Rafiki is Friends, Jazz is the music of Freedom!

Collectively and individually, the band values the oral tradition, musical heritage, innovation & improvisation, and we're always exploring that musical territory where individual virtuosity meets big-band integrity.

Since the start back in 2006 in Sheffield UK we have always recorded our album tracks live, and songwriting and arrangement is a collective affair that produces original songs of protest, liberation & human rights touching on metaphorical folk tales & ecstatic spiritual chant, all with a very current Afrobeat sensibility.

Iconic folk instruments from across the world drive our sound, resonating deep cultural & social history and linking the past to the West African kora, Caribbean steelpan, Indian tabla, Brazilian berimbau and Arabic ney & oud all have great significance.

Our Rafikian voices are women's and men's, mixing languages from urban streets that speak and sing of both universal rights and personal journeys, that call on ritual & devotion and make for trance and ecstacy. Our friend and big fan Professor George McKay (AHRC Research Fellow) says Rafiki Jazz are Global Utopians!

Our unique Rafikian style of original contemporary global heritage music has travelled from the BBC Radio 3 stage at Womad Charlton Park, to sellout Southbank audiences at London African Music Festival and Refugee Week’s Celebrating Sanctuary Festival, and on to amazed village audiences across the country and away at distant Tasmania's 10 Days on the Island Festival..

Tour History

DEBUT Sheffield Lantern Theatre

Bradford Priestley
Whitby Compass Club
Sheffield Penelopes
Hebden Bridge Trades Club
Hull Adelphi Club
Settle Victoria Theatre
Brampton Live Festival

Barnsley Civic
Otley Courthouse
York National Centre Early Music
Leeds HiFi Club
Cambridge St Pauls
Monksilver Village Hall
Sheffield Greentop
Glossop Lift Club
Birmingham Hare & Hounds

CHANNEL ISLANDS Collins World Music Series Tour:
Alderney Island Hall
Guernsey St James
Sark Island Hall
Jersey Arts Centre
Hull Queens Gardens
Harrogate Festival
WOMAD Festival Charlton Park BBC Stage
London African Music Festival Purcell Room
Rhayader Carad Night Out
Bridlington Musicport Festival
Scarborough Coastival Festival
Halifax Theatre Royal
Sheffield Sharrow Festival
Sheffield Cathedral: World Over Concert

TASMANIA 10 Days on the Island Festival Tour:
Hobart City Hall
Queenstown Memorial Hall
Burnie Town Hall

Sheffield Tramlines Festival
Sheffield University Octagon Centre
Whitby Musicport Festival
London St Ethelbergas Centre for Peace & Reconciliation

Sheffield Sensoria Festival
Manchester Platforma Festival
York National Centre Early Music
London Southbank Celebrating Sanctuary
Sheffield St Marys Heritage Jamboree
Cardiff Connected Communities Festival
Sheffield Connected Communities Festival
Bradford Total World
Leicester Y Theatre
Sheffield Site Gallery


Booking agents +44 (0)7753129888

General enquiries: +44(0)114 3463047

PR and Marketing: +44 (0)7801966344

Website: +44 (0)7535910056


RAFIKI JAZZ go Up Close! for 2018 - 'a stunning, virtuosic, internationalist show' says BBC Folk Singer of the Year Nancy Kerr

Rafiki Jazz are nine native and migrant folk remixing roots music and telling modern day stories with a glance back to the ancients. Celebrating unity in diversity with their latest CD release Har Dam Sahara (Riverboat Records) Rafikian music is 'a love-letter to this intricate world in all its beauty and complexity' and features the compelling vocal quartet of Sufi Sarah Yaseen, Hebrew-Hindi singer-songwriter Avital Raz, Egyptian Coptic master-musician Mina Salama and Senegalese griot Kadialy Kouyate at its heart.

Up Close! in performance reaches out with old & new songs of migrations & memories and the chance to get up close & personal with this acclaimed world music collective and their special guests. Expect a rich masala of mesmerising music traversing continents, languages and cultures, and set within hypnotically looping digital animations from award-winning Islamic geometric artist Zarah Hussain. Enchanting, soulful, exquisite!


'Har Dam Sahara' CD release! 30 June on Riverboat Records (TUGCD1106)

Rafiki Jazz celebrate unity in diversity with a unique shape-shifting and mesmeric sound. Rooted in modern Britain yet inspired by ancient musical traditions both near and far, Har Dam Sahara is a loveletter to this intricate world in all its beauty and complexity. Rafiki Jazz create mesmeric music that resonates deep, bound through with the rich colour tones of the ancient musical heritages they explore. United in their mission to create a sound that crosses cultural boundaries, the music melds traditional vernaculars anew and expresses the power and beauty of difference. Spanning four different continents they seamlessly combine the sounds of some of the world’s most distinctive folk instruments including the West African kora, Caribbean steelpan, Indian tabla, Brazilian berimbau and Arabic ney & oud along with inspirational vocals from the Sufi-soul singer Sarah Yaseen & Hebrew & Hindi vocalist Avital Raz.

'Har Dam Sahara' CD release! 30 June on Riverboat Records (TUGCD1106)/span>

Formed in Sheffield, UK in 2006 Rafiki Jazz began as a meeting between regional roots and jazz musicians with migrant and refugee artists. Today founding member and bassist Tony ‘Tk’ Koni remains at the helm steering the band’s collective artistic direction and co-producing. The album title Har Dam Sahara can be translated from Urdu as ‘In life’s every moment, there is always support’. A sage yet hopeful incantation reflected in many of the morals and messages of the songs. Marking a decade of Rafiki Jazz’s recording and touring adventures, this is an album which delivers a powerful commentary on the issues of migration, refugees and human rights. The lion’s share of Har Dam Sahara was recorded at Yellow Arch Studios, Sheffield and Phipps Concert Hall at the University of Huddersfield. Rafiki Jazz’s approach in the studio was to capture a live sound with little room for overdubs or heavily involved post-production. The result is a tender and natural sounding work full of inflection and intensity that can only be heard in live ensemble playing.

Regular performers at some of the biggest festivals and venues in the UK including Womad and the Southbank Centre, Rafiki Jazz’s creative process draws on the repertoire and technique of each band member alongside oral histories and folk songs from the archive. This unique cross-continental approach results in a compelling repertoire of devotional world music that draws on Pakistan and Senegal’s mystic Sufi traditions and ancient Middle Eastern Coptic and Hebrew liturgy, driven by the pulse of the orishas of Brazil’s Candomblé and the momentum of Indian sangeet. Rafiki Jazz distil the meaning of their name in two-part translation: Rafiki for ‘friends’ and jazz for ‘freedom’. Their indefinable, many-sided music is testament to their shared respect for those two key values. Har Dam Sahara is a love-letter to complexity, an embracing of this intricate world within which we live, and a beautiful one at that.


A compelling new live soundtrack of devotional world music that draws on Pakistan & Senegal's mystic Sufi traditions and ancient Middle Eastern Coptic & Hebrew roots. Premiered at Guy Garvey's Meltdown 2016 at London Southbank Centre and an outstanding highlight of London Barbican Centre's Transcender Festival 2016, Rafiki Jazz in Trance-It performances occupy an unforgettable meeting place of heritages, faiths & traditions...

'The most diverse band in the UK, a host of musicians spanning four continents with migrant & refugee artists at its heart & immense sincerity and compassion coursing through their songs' (Sashwati Mira Sengupta: Curator Celebrating Sanctuary London)

Live video
New video

Sarah Yaseen: Urdu & Punjabi vocals, percussion
Avital Raz: Hebrew vocals, tanpura
Mina Mikhail Salama: Coptic vocals, oud, ney & kawala flutes, duduk
Kadialy Kouyate: Mandinka & Wolof vocals, kora, sabar
Cath Carr: guitar, steelpans
Tony Koni: bass guitar, sabar
Johnny Ball: tabla, derbuka
Guery Tibirica: berimbau, pandeiro, atabaque, gumbe, capoeira
Vijay Venkat: violin, viola


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(Financial Times)

How to do East meets West with subtlety & flair..Rafiki Jazz..the best of British
(Songlines magazine Top of the World)

A musical masala..resonates with emotion and power
(Northern Sky)

Mesmerising devotional songs from Africa & Asia..impressive, elegant & wide-ranging

The most diverse band in the UK...excellent, Sufi-inspired, luxuriant sounds
(London Evening Standard)

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‘gorgeous music’
(Diz Heller, Arc Music International)

‘exciting & special!..comes across with a maturity and slow-burning beauty, to savour and enjoy’
(Debbie Golt: Resonance FM)

‘we’re loving the Rafiki Jazz album’
(Mary Ann Kennedy BBC World on 3)

‘a slinky global groove guaranteed to raise the temperature..a life affirming and uplifting celebration of multiculturalism’
(Dave Haslam; R2 Magazine)

‘big music indeed…elegant charm & rootsy authenticity’
(Howard Male: Songlines Magazine)

‘big, but refreshingly light-footed.. this unusual line-up will be well worth keeping an ear on’
(Jamie Renton: fRoots magazine)

‘a new, inventive and utterly fresh approach’
(Gill Kay:Jersey Evening Post)

‘three continents, one groove.. their delightfully open, brilliantly sunshine sound is the kind of unforced, effortlessly natural cultural collaboration to strike fear into the nearest BNP supporter’
(Nige Tassell:Womad)



Big Muzik from Over There
(KoniEP2007) 5 songs EP


More Big Muzik from Over There!
(KoniCD09) 8 songs album


No Lines No Separation
(Rev Righteous Records RR1) 10” 45 rpm vinyl single


At Kriol Junction
(KoniCDE010) 9 songs album plus bonus video track


Har Dam Sahara
(Riverboat Records TUGCD1106) 7 songs album