Toko Telo Ragas Live Festival Nov 21-22

Toko Telo joins a stellar line-up of world-music artists for the Ragas Live Festival. In its ninth year, the event has expanded to include 70 performers from 15 cities around the world.

Toko Telo’s set will be at 2PM EST on Sunday, Nov 22. With one-third of the band in European lock-down, Monika Njava and Teta are joined in Madagascar by veteran accordionist Jean Piso. All three have roots in Tuléar on the southwest coast. A half-hour drive north on N9 takes you to the popular seaside village of Mangily and Pata Pata Bar, where the live performance was filmed.

Join us online

But you don’t have to dodge the carts, rickshaws, pedestrians and livestock to get there. Going virtual this year means the Brooklyn-based project reaches an even larger audience. Wherever you are on the planet you’re invited. Access to view the entire 24-hour broadcast is free of charge. Simply register.

The Rages Live Festival is supported by, among others, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Council on the Arts and the Brooklyn Arts Council.


2019 tour final month

08.10  VPRO TV, NL
09.10  Tilburg, NL
10.10  Brussels, BE
13.10  Heerlen, NL
19.10  The Hague, NL
24.10  Bern, CH
25.10  Nidau, CH
26.10  Asparetto, IT

Toko Telo on tour

Shows are confirmed in the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Canada and the US, with more to come. Check out the calendar!

4 new videos

Filmed at WOMEX 2019 in Las Palmas, the videos feature Toko Telo performing Rapolany, Zaza Somondra, Haino Moa and Diavola.

★ ★ ★ ★ 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.

See Toko Telo on the opening night

“One of the world’s most forward-thinking guitar festivals”
Fretboard Journal

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.

Rocking Tamatave

Tamatave 1 long

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.

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.