6 September 2012
Last updated at 09:45
The Africa Express, a train with some 80 leading musicians from Africa, Europe and other parts of the world, is touring the UK for a week. Pictured here are guitarists Amadou Bagayoko - from the Malian duo Amadou & Mariam - and Romeo Stodart of the English band Magic Numbers. Photos and text: BBC Africa's Manuel Toledo
The journey is part of a project that started in 2006 when British rock musician Damon Albarn, of Blur and Gorillaz fame, and two other big fans of African rhythms - music producer Stephen Budd and journalist Ian Birrell - got together with the goal of bringing the sounds of Africa to a wider audience.
Some of the biggest stars from Africa, including Baaba Maal, Rokia Traore, Tony Allen and Bassekou Kouyate, are travelling on the train. They are joined by an extraordinary group of younger talents.
On board there is a great spirit of collaboration and the musicians are having a lot of fun together. Here Damon Albarn joins rappers Reeps One, African Boy, M.anifest, Pauli The PSM , as well as Hama Sangare playing the calabash and bassist Jonny Aherne from The Temper Trap on the tambourine.
Nigerian drummer Tony Allen has been met with rapturous applause. He is well known in the UK through his association with Fela Kuti, with whom he created the Afrobeat rhythms, but also thanks to recordings he did with Albarn.
The Africa Express UK tour is part of the London 2012 Festival which has been running in parallel to the Olympic and Paralympic games. Senegalese singer Baaba Maal was the artistic director of Africa Utopia, a month-long celebration of African culture at the Southbank Centre in London.
Sometimes the train stops and the musicians play on the platforms to a usually surprised audience. Here US violinist and singer Marques Toliver and Senegalese percussionist Massamba Diop play at Stoke-on-Trent station.
The contagious rhythms of the Democratic Republic of Congo have also been heard on several of the train stops thanks to Kinshasa-based band Jupiter & Okwess International.
Every day the artists also take part in pop-up shows in schools, community centres, galleries and other venues. Here, Rokia Traore, Romeo Stodart, Mamah Diabate, Diabel Cissokho, on the kora (an African harp), and M.anifest perform at Jumbo Records in Leeds.
From one extreme of Africa to the other, and beyond - South African rapper and DJ Spoek Mathambo - by the window - is joined by Egypt's Kareem Rush, from Arabian Knightz, and M1 from American hip-hop duo Dead Prez.
English hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks has been getting a lot of attention from their fans. Harley "Sylvester" Alexander-Sule, in this photo, and Jordan "Rizzle" Stephen told BBC Africa that after this journey they want to collaborate with more African musicians. Wearing a yellow T-shirt, on the left, is The Bots' drummer Anaiah Lei.
So far, the Africa Express musicians have had three big concerts - in Middlesbrough, Glasgow and Manchester. Pictured here are Tanzanian singer Mim Suleiman, Bassekou Kouyate, who plays the Malian ngoni (wooden lute), violinist Marques Toliver and Kyla La Grange on the piano.
Here the Express Horns are rehearsing. Standing behind them are Ian Birrell, on the left, and Stephen Budd, co-founders with Albarn of the Africa Express. Mr Budd told the BBC that by including well-known young musicians in the project they also aim to take African music to a younger public in the UK and around the world.
The musicians had a very Scottish welcome in Glasgow. The bagpipe players later joined Jupiter & Okwess International on stage. It was a weird and wonderful fusion of Congolese and Scottish sounds.
The journey continues. In the next few days, there will be performances in Cardiff, Bristol and London. The organisers and the musicians hope that by the time the tour is over many more people in the UK will have a lasting interest in African music.