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★ ★ ★ ★ Melodic songs, beautiful vocals, complex rhythms

Check out this enthusiastic Diavola review by veteran world music journalist Bas Springer in the August edition of Dutch magazine Lust For Life.

“Toko Telo from Madagascar brings together three top musicians from this beautiful island in the Indian Ocean: the formidable singer Monika Njava, master guitarist D’Gary, and the equally gifted guitarist Joël Rabesolo. The latter takes the place of the original member, accordionist Régis Gizavo, who unexpectedly died during a tour in 2017. To honor their deceased friend, the rest of the tour was finished by Njava and D’Gary.

Fortunately, the death of Gizavo didn’t mean the premature end of Toko Telo. The dexterous electric guitar playing of the new band member Rabesolo mixes naturally with that of D’Gary, whose impressive playing style is characterized by unusual open tunings. With her powerful, soulful voice, Njava connects these two stringed-instrument virtuosos, drawing inspiration from traditional music from Madagascar. It results in melodic songs with beautiful vocal harmonies and complex rhythms that invite you to dance.”


“Outstanding new album”

That’s just one of the accolades that fill this review of Diavola in the July/August edition of Rhythms Magazine, Australia’s leading roots publication. It is written by Tony Hillier, one of the country’s preeminent music journalists.

“The sweet success of Malagasy trio Toko Telo’s debut album Toy Raha Toy on its release last year turned sour when the band’s legendary accordion player, Régis Gizavo, passed away. Remaining members, guitar whiz D’Gary and soaring songstress Moniker Njava, who are among Madagascar’s most acclaimed musicians, decided the best way to honour their friend’s memory was by continuing the project. That decision accounts for Toko Telo’s swift return with an outstanding new album in Diavola and a dashing young replacement in Joël Rabesolo, who’s ranked among the best Malagasy guitarists of his generation.

“The interlocking acoustic strings of the male maestros enthrall on a collection of excellent songs that, while contemporary, are rooted in the rich traditions of one of the world’s most intriguing island nations. On pieces such as the beautiful title track and on ‘Manoro’ and ‘Oka Niny’ the guitarists gel like an Indian Ocean version of the revered UK duo of John Renboum and Bert Jansch. Elsewhere, in songs such as ‘Zaza Somondrara’, Njava’s voice soars as guitar harmonics ring delicately behind. The diva’s shaker lends propulsion to the album’s sign-off track and sole instrumental, the jaunty ‘Ndreto Zahay’.”


Toko Telo: great Swiss & UK reviews

Attentive, appreciative audiences in Switzerland and across England and Wales loved the band’s performances during the recently concluded 10-date UK tour. Check out the outstanding reviews:

Stanser Musiktagen, Switzerland: “The music of Toko Telo creates a hypnotic pull. At the same time it is highly melodies, soulful and of the highest singer-songwriter art.”

Sage Gateshead, Newcastle: “All was bliss for two hours…thanks to mellifluous music from Madagascar, produced by incredibly talented trio Toko Telo.”

National Centre for Early Music, York: “A full house in rapt attendance for Malagasy-speaking supergroup Toko Telo.”

The Apex, Bury St Edmunds: “Sunshine and warmth flowed down from the stage.”


TT at the BBC

Following a show to a full house at London’s Rich Mix, Toko Telo had a day off – sort of. Late afternoon saw the band go to Broadcasting House to record a segment for the BBC Radio 3 program Music Planet. Tune in on Thursday, May 11 at 23:00 (UK time). Not in the UK? You can listen online or anytime afterward on the Music Planet website.

Toko Telo starts April tour

A  sold-out performance by the trio at the Stanser Musiktage festival in Stans, Switzerland kicked off a 13-date tour. A second show by the trio in nearby Frick and another in Brussels complete the warm-up for a series of ten concerts across England later this month.


New Toko Telo album: Diavola

Anio Records is pleased to announce the release of a new album by the Malagasy supergroup Toko Telo. It follows on from the band’s first recording, Toy Raha Toy, which last summer rapidly climbed to the top of world music charts and playlists.

This success suddenly turned bittersweet with the tragic death of accordion legend Régis Gizavo. D’Gary and Monika Njava decided the best way to honor their friend was to continue the project they had started.

The trio is now back with a new line-up and new album. In Diavola, D’Gary, Monika Njava and Joël Rabesolo – the leading guitarist of his generation in Madagascar – have produced an enthralling collection of songs, contemporary in outlook yet firmly rooted in their country’s rich traditions.

Welcoming the moon

Take the haunting title track Diavola (Moon). Intricate, sometimes jazzy interplay between the two guitarists accompanies D’Gary’s account of nocturnal village life, where everyone – from lovers to thieves – welcomes the full moon.

In Tsy Tea Raho (I Don’t Like It) D’Gary and Joël drive an afro-funk groove as Monika laments an unhealthy attraction to an unsuitable man. Romance is also the topic of the D’Gary composition Zaza Somondrara (Young Girl). With Monika bringing out all the wistful beauty of the exquisite melody, village girls confess their desires.

Mpembe, a tribute to Régis, is one of his most irresistible songs: a nostalgic look back at the joys of a childhood game with a joyous groove. And in Ndreto Zahay (We Are Here) – half-song, half jam – the two guitarists let their imagination run wild in the tsapiky style of southwest Madagascar.

Buy the CD or download the entire 10-song album now.

Two new Toko Telo videos!

Featuring the new line-up of DGary, Monika Njava and Joël Rabesolo, both clips were shot in Madagascar.

Be Tepotepo (Fearful) tells of a man yearning to return to his village, but afraid because of violence in the area. In this live performance the group brings out the deepest emotion within one of D’Gary’s best-known songs.

The title of the rollicking jam Oka Niny is a common phrase in the dialect of the Vezo people living on the southwest coast of Madagascar. It could be loosely translated as, “Go, girl!”

TWMC 2017 Top 100: Toy Raha Toy at #7!

Every December the Transglobal World Music Chart (TWMC) publishes its picks for the best 100 world music releases of the previous 12 months. This year’s list placed Toko Telo’s debut album Toy Raha Toy in the top ten at #7.

In August it leapt to #1, holding on to the #2 spot the following month before slipping back to #6 in October. In total, Toy Raha Toy remained in the TWMC top 40 for five months.

Anio Records thanks all the TWMC members – renowned world music specialists from around the world – for their support during 2017.

Global Village Top 40 Albums: Toy Raha Toy #1

On August 1 Toy Raha Toy hit the #1 spot on the Global Village Top 40 Albums For July 2017. Global Village is broadcast weeknights on KMUW-FM, based in Wichita, Kansas. Hosted by the celebrated DJ Chris Heim, it features a wide range of world music.

The program is distributed through the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) to over 330 stations in 41 US states and Canada, Cambodia, Mexico and New Zealand. Winner of multiple prizes, Global Village was named the #1 Most Licensed Series in the 2017 PRX Zeitfunk Awards, while KMUW was named the #1 Most Licensed Station.

TWMC #1: Toy Raha Toy

After only one month on the Transglobal World Music Chart, Toy Raha Toy, the debut album by Toko Telo, shot up to #1. The latest ranking, a compilation of votes submitted by an international network of respected names in world-music radio and journalism, was published on August 1st.

Anio Records sends a huge thank you to the members of the TWMC for their votes.

Toy Raha Toy on NPR

“These three artists are deeply in sync. And with Toy Raha Toy, they’ve created perhaps the best introduction yet to Madagascar’s utterly alluring folk music.”

On Monday, July 24th Toko Telo hit the airwaves big time on National Public Radio’s program All Things Considered. Host Kelly McEvers invited Banning Eyre of Afropop Worldwide to play excerpts from Toy Raha Toy and talk about the album and the artists within the context of Malagasy music. On the air since 1971, All Things Considered is broadcast five days a week on more than 500 radio stations. Its average daily listener numbers have reached 12 million.

Toy Raha Toy enters TWMC at #6

The Transglobal World Music Chart (TWMC) was founded by a group of renowned world music critics to spread awareness of the best world-music productions.

Each month the members vote freely for their favorite albums among the latest music releases. Their criteria? Merit and talent rather than popularity, big productions and record sales. The votes are then compiled into a chart of the highest-rated albums.

Competing against submissions that had already been climbing the list for up to three months, Toy Raha Toy entered straight into the July chart at spot #6. Anio Records thanks the TWMC members for their support.

Toy Raha Toy: the debut album by Toko Telo

Toy Raha ToyAnio Records is pleased to announce the release of the first album by Malagasy supergroup Toko Telo: D’Gary, Monika Njava & Régis Gizavo. The recording largely took place on location in Tolaria, the southwestern city where the three artists passed their formative years. The music is thus infused with the unique landscape and culture of this remarkable region.

The compositions by all three artists chronicle the experiences of ordinary people. The title track, Toy Raha Toy, takes its name from an everyday expression meaning, “Here it is.” But here the phrase takes a lascivious twist as a provocative women pokes fun at her shy victim. Other lyrics describe the menace of cattle rustlers, the dreams and disappointments of peasant women, and the existential threat posed by environmental destruction.

Toy Raha Toy is being distributed by Xango Music.


19.10.2019 Toko Telo Zuiderstrandtheater The Hague, NL
13.10.2019 Toko Telo Theater Heerlen Heerlen, NL
10.10.2019 Toko Telo Bozar Brussels, BE
9.10.2019 Toko Telo Theaters Tilburg Tilburg, NL
26-28.09.2019 Toko Telo Aga Khan Museum Toronto, CA
21.09.2019 Toko Telo Media Sanctuary Troy NY, US
7.09.2019 Toko Telo Black Swamp Festival Bowlng Green OH, US
5.09.2019 Toko Telo Ellnora Guitar Festival Urbana IL, US
9-11.08.2019 Toko Telo Edmonton Folk Music Festival Edmonton, CA
23.07.2019 Toko Telo Festival Aux Heures d’Ete Nantes, FR
19.07.2019 Toko Telo Wonderfeel Festival Hilversum, NL
13.07.2019 Toko Telo Lugano Arte e Cultura Lugano, CH
12.07.2019 Toko Telo Festival Suoni Mobili Usmate Velate, IT
11.07.2019 Toko Telo Festival Lonigo Posto Unico Vicenza, IT
10.07.2019 Toko Telo Touscoleurs Festival Bordighera, IT
9.07.2019 Toko Telo Infrasuoni Festival Bologna, IT
7.07.2019 Toko Telo Afrikafestival Hertme Hertme, NL
5-6.07.2019 Toko Telo Rudolstadt Festival Rudolstadt, DE
30.06.2019 Toko Telo IUB, Antigua Comandancia Ibiza, ES
27.06.2019 Toko Telo CaixaForum Madrid, ES
15.06.2019 Toko Telo No Mad Festval Cergy-Pontoise, FR
17.05.2019 Toko Telo Grounds Rotterdam, NL
11.05.2019 Toko Telo De X Leiden, NL
10.05.2019 Toko Telo Bimhuis Amsterdam, NL
27.04.2019 Monika Njava: Island Jazz Is’art Galerie Antananarivo, MG
21.04.2019 Monika Njava: Island Jazz Nosy Be Jazz Fest Nosy Be, MG
12.04.2019 Monika Njava: Island Jazz Le Louvre Antananarivo, MG
26.10.2018 Toko Telo WOMEX 2018 Las Palmas, ES
20.10.2018 Toko Telo Espace Roudour Morlaix, FR
19.10.2018 Toko Telo Rhino Jazz Festival Saint-Chamond, FR
23.07.2018 Toko Telo Autres Rivages Uzès, FR
26.06.2018 Toko Telo Malagasy Embassy Paris, FR
23.06.2018 Toko Telo Festival musiques du monde Sarcelles, FR
29.04.2018 Toko Telo Performing Arts Centre Lincoln, UK
27.04.2018 Toko Telo Pontio Bangor, UK
26.04.2018 Toko Telo Junction Cambridge, UK
24.04.2018 Toko Telo Rich Mix London, UK
23.04.2018 Toko Telo The Apex Bury St Edmunds, UK
21.04.2018 Toko Telo Sage Gateshead Gateshead, UK
20.04.2018 Toko Telo NCEM York, UK
19.04.2018 Toko Telo University of Sheffield Sheffield, UK
18.04.2018 Toko Telo The Stables Milton Keynes, UK
17.04.2018 Toko Telo Colston Hall Bristol, UK
14.04.2018 Toko Telo Muziekpublique Brussels, BE
13.04.2018 Toko Telo Meck à Frick Frick, CH
11.04.2018 Toko Telo Stansermusiktage Stans, CH
22.12.2017 Toko Telo Studio Arena Ivandry Antananarivo, MG
15.12.2017 Monika Njava with Njava Institut Français Antananarivo, MG
30.07.2017 Toko Telo Sfinks Festival Boechout, BE
29.07.2017 Toko Telo WOMAD UK Charlton Park, UK
22.07.2017 Toko Telo Welcome to the Village Leeuwarden, NL
18.06.2017 Toko Telo Houtfestival Haarlem, NL
17.06.2017 Toko Telo Festival Rio Loco Toulouse, FR
25.05.2017 Monika Njava Nuit Voix des Femmes Mayotte, FR
20.05.2017 Monika Njava Saison Jazz Festival Mayotte, FR
14.04.2017 Monika Njava La Palette Antsirabe, MG
31.03.2017 Monika Njava CCI Ivato Antananarivo, MG
8.08.2016 Island Jazz Tivoli Copenhagen, DK
5.08.2016 Island Jazz Urkult Festival Näsåker, SE
16.05.2016 Island Jazz Music Meeting Nijmegen, NL
25.03.2016 Monika Njava Alliance Française Tamatave, MG
11.02.2016 Monika Njava KUDéTA Antananarivo, MG
24.12.2015 Monika Njava Neptune Tamatave, MG
19.12.2015 Monika Njava Dôme RTA Antananarivo, MG
25.10.2015 Island Jazz Sibiu Jazz Festival Sibiu, RO
20.08.2015 Island Jazz Jazz Night Zug, CH
7.08.2015 Island Jazz Foen-X Bregenz, AT
26.06.2015 Island Jazz Festival im Schlosshof Leipheim, DE
10.04.2015 Monika Njava Café de la Gare Antananarivo, MG
27.03.2015 Monika Njava Biso na Biso Antananarivo, MG
21.03.2015 Monika Njava Etoile de Mer Toliara, MG
20.03.2015 Monika Njava Vakok’Arts Toliara, MG
8.03.2015 Monika Njava Intl. Women’s Day Toliara, MG
27.02.2015 Monika Njava Alliance Française Tamatave, MG
13.02.2015 Monika Njava Trass Antananarivo, MG
26-27.10.14 Monika Njava with Deep Forest Santiago, CL
29.09.2014 Island Jazz Sunset Paris, FR
8.08.2014 Island Jazz Bezau Beatz Bezau, AT
6.08.2014 Island Jazz Festival Hafensommer Würzburg, DE
2.08.2014 Island Jazz Bardentreffen Nürnberg, DE
27.07.2014 Island Jazz St. Georgen swingt Bayeuth, DE
26.07.2014 Island Jazz Jazz & Weltmusik Ehrenhof Düsseldorf, DE
17.07.2014 Island Jazz Archiduc Brussels, BE
3.04.2014 Monika Njava with Deep Forest Moscow, RU


IWD: singing out, speaking out

Monika & Bodo

Rocking Tamatave

Tamatave 1 long


Monika Njava with Theo “Mikéa”

M&T close 2


Monika Njava in Santiago, Chile with Deep Forest


Afropop radio interview: Monika Njava


Island Jazz: hot summer shows

© Frans Schneider

Listeners in three new countries got a chance to hear the unique and exciting sound of Island Jazz this summer. Warming up audiences in the cool climate of Northern Europe with equatorial Malagasy fire, the quartet played blazing-hot shows at Music Meeting (Netherlands), the Urkult Festival (Sweden) and Tivoli Gardens (Denmark).

Turning 30 this year Music Meeting was picked as one of the 25 best international music festivals by leading music magazine Songlines. The Urkult Festival, running since 1995, attracts 8,000 people to its setting of forests, rivers and hills. By contrast, Tivoli Gardens, opened in 1843, is in the heart of bustling Copenhagen. It receives 5 million visitors a year.

Island Jazz in Sibiu

Sibiu Jazz Festival

“Island Jazz closed this year’s edition of Sibiu Jazz Festival wonderfully.” That was how the organizers of this international event summed up the group’s performance. The festival has taken place every year since 1977 in one of Romania’s most important cultural cities, designated a European Capital of Culture in 2007. Following the evening show at the elegant 18th Century Thalia concert hall, the band relocated to thrill the Sibiu crowd with an after-hours jam session.


Linley Marthe “No. 1”

Linley Marthe - Jazz Dunyasi

In the artistic domain, “world’s best” discussions always have a subjective element. So for more objective judgements we turn to authorities, especially journalists and peers. Look no further than the cover of the spring/summer issue of Jazz Dunyasi. It shows a photo of Linley Marthe along with the caption “Bassist No. 1”.

Leyla Afandiyeva, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, is not the only person to assert this. No less an authority than Joe Zawinul thought so too. Despite a reputation for frequently changing rhythm sections, Zawinul held onto Linley from 2003 through his last tour, shortly before his death in 2007.

No 1 at JazzAhead - 2

Jazz came to Azerbaijan early in the 20th century – and stayed. Leyla saw Linley when The Joe Zawinul Syndicate performed at the Baku Jazz Festival in 2005. He’s been a regular visitor ever since. She says, “I remember Zawinul’s musicians looking through a copy of the magazine and exclaiming: ‘Wow! You have your own magazine!’”. The latest issue, filled with jazz news and reviews, featured prominently at this year’s JazzAhead, an official partner of the publication.

Linley Marthe was also mentioned in Bass Musician Magazine, an online monthly based on the other wise of the world in the US. Founded in 2007 for bass musicians and industry professionals, it has become among the most widely read bass publications online.

Island Jazz on German radio

Monika Njava & Linley Marthe 2

Madagascar was the focus of a broadcast by Bavarian Radio, part of a weekly series exploring world music. Highlighting the island’s traditional and current sounds, the program featured live recordings of Island Jazz made by German radio during the band’s tour last summer, as well as an interview with Monika Njava. She explained the unique way Island Jazz combines traditional and contemporary musical styles, and discussed how she uses her music as a force for political change in her country.

Island Jazz at Bezau Beatz Festival

Kultur – Zeitschrift für Kultur und Gesellschaft 09.08.2014

Peter Füssl

Monika Njava – pure emotion!Bezau review photo

Monika Njava is Madagascar’s national diva and with her sizzling blend of African, rock, jazz and funk, she raised a storm in the old depot building of the Bregenz Forest Railway. Her powerful voice and explosive presence radiate pure emotion as she expresses joy and sorrow in different Malagasy dialects, engaging in a wonderful duel with guitarist and compatriot Joël Rabesolo, whose dexterous playing ranges from hard rock to startlingly unconventional.

The line-up is called Island Jazz because all its members come from islands. On this occasion the more subtle jazz ingredients were sacrificed in favour of a powerful, stirring, gut-wrenching performance. It was a case of maximum sound rather than fine nuance, but always a musical experience, and one that made its full impact in the ambience of the railway depot.