Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba 'I Speak Fula'
Just north of Bamako, Mali, on the sandy grounds near the Sahara of
West Africa where the ancient Malian Empire once flourished, Bassekou
Kouyate stands with his ngoni - the ancestor of the banjo.
Like his father Banzoumana Sissoko, "the old lion of Mali," Bassekou is endowed
with the music of his people. At an at early age Bassekou learned to
play the ngoni. Like all Kouyates, Bassekou was born into the rich
traditional griot culture, in which the musicians sing the praises of
local kings and remind younger generations of the epics about battles
fought long ago.
On Bassekou Kouyate's latest album 'I Speak Fula', his band Ngoni Ba
juxtaposes the ancient and the modern, seamlessly melding contemporary jazz, blues, rock, bluegrass, and pop influences with Afro-beat and the centuries-old musical traditions of the griots of Mali.
Ngoni Ba presents a new modern sensibility to the ancient music of the griots.
This is 'Rock & Roll' played not on guitar but nogni, from bass to lead with calabash and
djimbe providing the powerful rhythmical drive.
Check videos of Ngoni Ba
at Bassekou's mySpace page!
Mamany Kouyate, The Golden Voice Of Mali
Mamany Kouyate is a djelimusso, the traditional female vocalist in West
Africa’s Manding diaspora. The Golden Voice Of Mali features the music you would hear on local radio across West Africa,
artfully arranged by guitarist, Ousmane Kouyate. The
modern Malian tracks suggest an upbeat afrobeat 'zouk' groove with a jazz rock flavor, that
was popular in the 80s! Don't dispair, the acoustic tracks showcase the
ensemble's rich command of the older traditional repertoire.
This clearly heard on the exquisite performance of 'Fatou Nana', featuring Moriba Koita on 'koni' (ngoni).
- Mamany Kouyate (lead vocals)
- Adja Kouyate, Adja Kouyate (backing vocals)
- Ousmane Kouyate, Modibo Biabate (guitar)
- Tiemoko Kante (bolon)
- Kadiatou Kouyate, Kaba Kouyate (balafon)
- Lamine Camara (bass guitar)
- Moriba Koita 'koni' (ngoni)
- 8 tracks of majestic Malian music!
Keba Bobo Cissoko Dougougna Boukalon compact disc
This 2002 release is one of the only recordings I know of
that showcases the musicianship of the late Kora musician, Keba Bobo
Cissoko with his ensemble, Tamalalou. Keba came to New York
City in 1996 from Guinee Conakry. Born in 1962 in Guinea Bissau,
the home of kora roots, Keba learned the traditional art of the jali
(also jeli, or griot). This rare recording captures his music and spirt. He was
was a mainstay of New York's vibrant Mande music scene, and is very much missed
by all who knew him, both there and back home in West Africa.
[ Keba Bobo Cissoko died on February 8th, 2003 at the age of 40 from complications from HIV & Hepatitis C in NYC.]
Tracks from Dougougna Boukalon
- Classic kora 'song' featuring guitar, driving vocals with tama (talking drum) w/ kora (full ensemble track)
- Sabu Fangni
- Starts off with balo and djimbe and goes into a classic Malian / Guinee groove
- kora with ngoni and bolon (6 string bass), sans vocals
- Soumaila Camara
- kora ensemble with nice female backing vocals
- Alla La Kananjon
- Gambian 'costal' style kora duet, with layered vocals
- Chu Chongolo
- Malian 'Eastern' style kora duet with ngoni -- sounds like there two koras on this track, very cool!
- Saya (Allah la ke)
- kora ensemble performance of this Manding classic
- kora(s) performance (no drums on this track)
- Bangali BaFode
- Gambian track - two koras + ngoni
- Full group, Guinee style, lots of balo and djimbe and of course kora and lead vocal.
[ Total Playing Time: 57 minutes / 37 sec ]
Sekou Bembeya Diabaté, Guitar Fö
Sekou Bembeya Diabaté--a.k.a. Diamond Fingers, recorded in 70's for the famous West African Syliphone label. The
sonic quality of these and other early recordings did not reflect the artistry of this Manding guitar master.
With the release of Guitar Fö we are treated to 48 minute CD that does justice to the grandfather of 'Manding Swing'
This legend of West African guitar was lead guitarist and co-founder of Guinea, Conakry's famous Bembeya Jazz. Diabaté
and his band brought the Latin flavored Manding swing music onto the dance-floors and airwaves, (on shortwave via Africa N°1 )
of West Africa. But soon their music was being played on VOA (Voice of America), Radio France, and BBC as well! When Guinea's dance
bands went into decline in the 1980s, Diabaté began to work as a soloist. Guitar Fö presents Sekou Bembeya
Diabaté's interpretations of his solo guitar favorites, along with some classics from Bembeya Jazz. If you listen closely
you can hear phrases reminiscent of the kora and balophone.
For more information on with Sekou Bembeya Diabaté & Bembeya Jazz, check out this 2002 Afro Pop interview.
Guitar Fö $17.00 ORDER
Bembeya Jazz band 2002 release 'Bemeya' $16 ORDER
Sekou Bembeya Diabaté Diamond Fingers (guitar trio, no vocals) $17
Kélétigui Diabaté 'Sandiya'
- 15 tracks, that are quite varied, from solo balo to full band!
- Guest musicians include Toumiani Diabaté kora, Dejli Madi Tounkara: guitar
- Third track features Fula Flute
- a jazz performance of Summertime played only balo!
- Total time on the CD, almost 70 minutes!
He has been called the "bibliothèque de la musique Africaine"
(library of African music) by younger African musicians,
multi-instrumentalist Kélétigui Diabaté is the unsung hero of
West African music. Kélétigui was first balafon player to use two balaphones tuned a
'half step apart' to facilitate playing jazz! In his home in Bamako, hangs picture of his hero,
the legendary vibraphonist, Lionel Hampton. Additionally Kélétigui
plays violin, sax and guitar. He was recruited to establish the First National
Orchestra in Guinea, playing electric guitar in his own distinctive left-handed style.
Students from his band became founding members of the Super Rail
Band, while Diabaté joined the highly influential Ambassadors, with whom he recorded
and toured. He is the kingpin of Bamako recording scene, he has appeared on several of Toumani's CD, most notably
(and still in print) is Djelika. In 1998, Kélétigui joined forces with Habib
Koité. With Habib, he played local bars in his home town, Bamako and toured the world where he finally gained
worldwide recognition for his talents. On Sandiya, Diabaté is joined by the best of the best of Malian musical
artists, notably, Toumani Diabaté, Djelimady Tounkara and Habib Koité.
Sandiya $18.00 ORDER
Ba Cissoko Sabolan
Sabolan is the antithesis of 99% of kora recordings out there.
Lead singer Ba Cissoko lays down the grove with his kora while his brother Sekou Kouyaté
puts his kora through electronics, creating screaming lead riffs.
This family band comprised of four young Guineans living in France,
features two rocking kora players with a groove heavy bass player (and bolon, backing vocals) and one smoking percussionist
playing calabash, tama (talking drum) and djembe.
This debut release effortlessly blends reggae, rock, smooth jazz, electronia with Manding music.
Sabolan contains 13 tracks that capture the bands great groves, fast paced & furious and music.
Over 58 minutes of music for the adventurous listener awaits
Sample tracks from Sabolan
"The Ba Cissoko quartet is one of those rare groups adored by their entire
country. Young people love them for their tradition-breaking approach to the
kora, and old people love them for continuing the art of that instrument, rather
than indulging in rap or other such frivolities" -- Katharina Lobeck, Songlines.
Sabolan $20.00 ORDER
Electric Griotland captures the new generation Guinean sound,
with its hip hop infused high energy music.
While Ba Cissoko locks down the groove on his acoustic traditional kora,
Sekou's plays Hendrix inspired leads that take flight over the ensemble
which includes a third kora played by Sekou's brother
Kourou and Ibrahim Bah on the djembe/congas.
Electric Griotland - Import $20.00 ORDER
Very Latin and polished is the sound of Séno, the third release by Guineé kora band,
Ba Cissoko. The addition of acoustic guitar played by Abdoulaye Kouyate, takes this recording to
a new plateau. No reference to hip hop, real music played a polished musicians, Séno is a winner!
Malian kora artist Mamadou Diabate, has high prase for Ba Cissoko, latest recording. He loves Séno, a lot :)-
Séno $20.00 - Import ORDER
Festival in the Desert
DVD now available, interviews, performances and more!
In January 2003, a diverse group of world-famous musicians (and adventurous music lovers) trekked deep in the Sahara Desert to
perform and attend the third-annual Festival in the Desert. A unique celebration of the music and culture of the Tuareg people,
the festival also welcomes artists from other parts of Mali, Africa and the world to one of the most remote music festivals on
the globe. This live recording of performances from the three-day event includes tracks by Ali Farka Touré, Oumou Sangaré,
Lo'Jo, Tinariwen and Robert Plant. The Led Zeppelin singer performs "Win My Train Fare Home" with guitarist and World Village
recording artist Justin Adams, who tours and records with Plant. The festival and its amazing music have already been featured
on NPR's All Things Considered, Rolling Stone and many major US newspapers.
Give a listen to the BBC's Andy Kershaw as he treks
across Mali to the festival site and back to Bamako.
Program one highlights: at 31 minutes in to the program Robert Plant does a performance of 'Whole lot of love', desert style
Program two highlights: live recording of Toumani's new band, live in Bamako -- near the end of the show. enjoy!
Read more about the Festival in the Desert.
"a dazzling CD"
- The Independent
"The best live album I've ever heard."
- Charlie Gillett, BBC Radio
"It is one of the few honest things I have been a part of in a long, long time."
- Robert Plant, Rolling Stone
"It was an extraordinary experience...
I felt, this was the music I'd been looking for all my life. All you've got to do is listen to the CD...and you're there."
- Robert Plant (The Independent)
Festival in the Desert CD $16.00 ORDER
Festival in the Desert DVD $22.00 ORDER
Kasse Mady Diabate
Kasse Mady is one of West Africas greatest voices and one of the most
cherished singers in Mali, known for his profound knowledge of Malis
deepest oral and musical traditions, for his ability to adapt these
traditions into a modern context, and last but not least, for the sheer
beauty and ethereal quality of his tenor voice.
Kassi Kasse features a light acoustic setting
for this vocal king of the Manding deli tradition. There is touch of a Latin flavor and free floating flute
adds a little jazz vibe. Light and lyrical
In spite of its modern production value, Kasse Mady's voice resonates with
a deep powerful peformance. Folkloric elements like ngoni, and balaphone
balance out the electric guitar and keyboards (used sparingly).
Mandekalou translates to the plural of "Manding people". This 2004 studio digital recording produced in
Bamako, Mali by the legendary West African music producer, Ibrahima Sylla is a "who's who's" in the world
of dejli vocalists. Featured on this hour long disc are Kasse Mady Diabate, Kandia Kouyate, and Sekouba 'Bambino' Diabate
accompanied by the "crème da la crème" of Manding musicians (Djelimady Tounkara
and Kémo Kouyaté plus many, many more) contributing some amazing playing
(ngoni, guitar, kora, balophone). This recording is about Manding vocal art.
The musical backdrop is a rich tapestry strings and percussion, the kora is definitely there, you
just have to listen for it!
Antoine Moundanda Likembé Géant
Imagine Soukous music with its rich three part vocal harmonies, but instead of
guitars backing the singers African thumb pianos (likembés) provided the accompaniment.
This remarkable recording will surprise you. There is surprisingly decent bass on this recording, being produced by the likembés.
A great gift or addition to any world music collection.
"Antoine Moundanda sings in a rough, beefy tenor reminiscent of Congo music
legend Franco in his prime. Moundanda's music also has the grand swing of
Franco's rumba orchestra, TPOK Jazz. The difference is that Moundanda is not
leading a modern orchestra full of guitars, drums, horns and singer, but rather
a small trio consisting only of large traditional thumb pianos, likembés. The
literature about Congo music contains intriguing speculation about the influence
of likembés or sanza traditions on development of modern Congo music, especially
the guitar parts. This remarkable, pumping live set from the MASA festival in
Abidjan in 1997 puts some meat on the bones of that argument." -- Banning Eyre
Mp3 samples from Likembé Géant
The roots of 'Congotronics'?
Antoine Moundanda (bio)
At nearly 70, Antoine Moundanda is one of the prominent figures of African music
and in particular of the Congolese scene… Singer and composer, he plays the
Kisansi, better known as the Sanza (traditional instrument composed of metal
slats fixed on a hollow wooden chamber).
As early as 1955 an international career opened up for Antoine Moundanda. He
travelled to the four corners of the Earth, with his Sanza in his hand, now solo
then with other artists. A perfectionist, resolutely modern, he has given a new
dimension to this traditional instrument by taking it from 9 to 22 blades. An
exceptional singer, an inspired composer, Antoine Moundanda is one of the
creators of Rumba, one of the founding fathers of all modern Zairo-Congolese music.
For the full review visit Afropop Worldwide
Mah Damba Djelimusso
A killer recording North African Malian string music. 'Djelimusso' showcases
fiery acoustic guitar and ngoni opposite the smooth female vocals of
Mah Damba. A truly outstanding acoustic recording of modern Malian music.
Ali Farka Touré fans will love this CD! Recording quality "A+"
Djelimusso $16.00 ORDER
Kandia Kouyate "Biriko"
Released in 2002 from the grandest of all Mali's grand jelimoussow, (female griot singers) Kandia
Kouyaté presents her 2002 release, Biriko. This CD with its basic tracks
recorded with a core set of excellent griot instrumentalists including guitarist
and arranger Ousmane Kouyaté and guest guitarist Djelimady Tounkara (Super Rail
Band). Songs like "Sanougnaoule" and "M'Bensara" deliver the rich, swimming
melodicism of classic Manding praise song, an art form at which this singer is
Specially Priced Manding Music, only $12 per CD!
- Mamoutou Mangala Camara vocals, kamele n'goni
- Lansine Kouyate balophone
- Yakhouba Bourama Sissokho kora
"Mali Chants et musiques de griots" is one CD one will want to add to your world music archive. Don't be misled by the cheap cover art,
this trio's recording of the traditional Manding music is rich and dymanic.
Mangala's deep bluesy voice blends well with Sissokho's and Kouyate's fast articulate playing.
Included is one solo track of Kamalen N'Goni (pentatonic hunter's harp used in Wassoulou
music). Mangala Camara is well known singer in his home, Bamko Mali and is
starting to establish himself over in Europe.
"I've been particularly enamored lately by Mali Chants.
The clarity and precision, virtuosity and heart that goes into that music just blows me away."
'Mali' kora & balo duets (instrumental, no vocals) $12
'Gambia' kora w/vocal $12
This recent CD features Yakhouba Sissokho, peforming the traditional Gambian branch of the Manding kora repertoire.
A light and spirited performance is captured on this recording not to be missed
Yakhouba Sissokho lineage is from the to Sissokho family of Manding griots.
So Sissokho is not only an accomplished kora musician but a knowledgeable
storyteller and historian as well. Accompanied by the sweet sounds of the of his
the kora, he recounts the history of his people, from the great heroes of the
past to the dignitaries of the present day.
"Sénégal" kora duets $12
"Sénégal" is the perfect recording for some one who is
just getting started with the kora. Featuring two long tracks of
traditional Manding kora music. This CD starts with a 20 minute solo
performance by Dejli Keba Kouate followed by a 31 minute kora duet
performed by Fodé Drame and Bana Sissoko. This is a very clear
recording with out vocals, making it perfect for learning kora music. It
also makes for great background music.
The Divas From Mali
Divas is a compilation of Manding and Wassoulou music featuring rare tracks from the out of print Sidiki Diabate Ensemble record "Ba Togoma."
Southern Mali is the birth place for Wassoulou music which is rooted in hunters music.
This disc has a total playing time of 72 minutes and ends with four tracks of Wassoulou music,
featuring tracks drawn from early recordings of female vocalists Sali Sidibe and Oumou Sangare.
The "Ba Togoma" tracks are quite sublime and make this compilation a welcome addition to any world music collection.
Kante Manfila "N'n Niawale"
This West African singer song writer has a long history that dates back to 70s when he played guitar in
Salif Keita's original band, Les Ambassadeurs. Manfila's music is pure Manding folk.
In this recording we are treated to Kante's smooth vocals accompanied by his acoustic guitar playing.
Blended with this folky style is kora, balophone and female vocals, very sweet!
Miriam Makeba The Guinea Years
rare live performance from this legendry South African singer
Miriam was born in Johannesburg. As a young girl of thirteen, she
entered a talent show at a missionary school and walked off with the
first prize. Later when Miriam received invitations to travel to Europe
and America, her singing came to the attention of Harry Belafonte and
Steve Allen. 1959 saw her becoming the first South African to win a
Grammy award for the album 'An Evening with Harry Belafonte & Miriam Makeba'.
In 1967, she wrote the song, "Pata Pata" was released in the United States and became a hit worldwide.
After that Miriam moved back to Africa, this time to Guinea where she
continued to record songs and toured intensively.
Miriam was well respected by the government of Guinea and was asked to
address the United Nations General Assembly as a Guinean delegate. She
twice addressed the General Assembly, speaking out against the evils of
These recordings from the archives Syllart Productions,
were made during the time she lived in Guinea. On 'The Guinea Years'
crosses cultural borders Miriam singing in nine languages. 'Cause Africa
is always in focus of Miriam Makeba's soul. There two songs sung in
Arabic. One of these tracks, "Africa", Miriam is backed by a string
orchestra. This CD include four tracks recorded live at Palais du Peuple
in Conakry. If your fan of 'Zap Mama' you will enjoy this CD!
Donkili Diarabi (guinean lovesongs)
Don't be deceived by the CD cover photo which was taken at some music festival. This CD features
classical Guineé vocals backed by traditional acoustic Manding troupe playing all the instruments.
Featured are the lovely voices of the Sisters Diabaté, Mamam, Sayon and Sona. One cool thing about this disc,
is the bolon, (3-string bass) is way up front in the mix. I did not hear any balo trios happening as the cover might suggest,
but I did hear great ensemble performances. Definitely worth a listen, recommended!
Les soeurs diabaté is a vocal trio with Mamam, Sayon and Sona Diabaté.
On Donkili Diarabi their sweet vocals are backed by balophone, bolon, guitar.
Séche means dry in French, in this case 'guitar dry' or acoustic. This recordings showcases acoustic
performances by the great Guinea guitarist Djessou Mory Kanté. A must for African guitar enthusiasts.
Franco & TPOK Jazz (Zaire)-- et le tout puissant
From the Congo, Central Africa, Soukous king Franco's 'et le tout puissant' CD features smoking
electric guitars and conga (with full band -- no keyboards) This 1989 release
from France Sonodisc features Franco's famous "Mario" and includes
the riveting "La Vie des Hommes." Both of these story-songs are
sung by Franco and Madilu. A great CD for your next dance party!
D'Gary Akata Meso
( Indigo, Label Bleu, 2002 )
Music from Madagascar
Tinariwen, The Radio Tisdas Sessions
Just released at the turn of 2002, Tinariwen is a band of nomads with electric guitars.
This Touareg band from Northern Mali's Dogan country presents music reminiscent of Ali Farke Touré.
The characteristic distorted guitar via the requisite Roland Jazz Chours amp is enveloped by dark background vocals.
The hand percussion with the calabash give the music a life pulse which moves the music forward makeup
conjuring up the mystic of the desert.
History behind Tinariwen: "The Kel Tamashek, as the Touareg refer to themselves, fiercely resisted the French and the Malian government. The Tinariwen
sound emerged when members were in exile in Libya listening to Bob Marley and John Lennon. They decided to apply their
traditional music to the electric guitar and became the musical mouthpiece of the Touareg independence movement."
Produced by French world music group Lo'Jo and guitarist Justin Adams (of Jah Wobble & Sinead O' Connor fame).
"The Radio Tisdas Sessions’ has no bluster in it. The songs sound weathered
and deliberate, with somber riffs picked on electric guitars
and vocals that sound weary but undaunted."
- Jon Pareles, New York Times
More of the wonderful North African Tuareg desert music. Has a decided
Arabic sound, more acoustic then Tinarowen. Their ballads and their
compelling call-and-response songs, and the sounds of tehardent and
imzad - early forms of guitar and violin - transport the listener to the sweeping expanses of the Sahara.
Justin Adams Desert Road
Imagine combining North African sensibility with a modern electric U.K. singer
songwriter. This what you would end up with. Kind like a U.K. version of Ali
Farka with more of a British rock edge.
Two meta-musical paths crossed when Justin Adams went to Mali. There he made the
connection between the Arabic music that surrounded his youth (he lived in Jordan,
Lebanon and Egypt) and the Blues, Reggae, and Rock, all with origins in Africa.
Suddenly, he knew why some music swings. After years of performing with Jah Wobble,
Sinead O'Connor, Natacha Atlas, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Billy Bragg, and Robert
Plant, Justin Adams releases his first solo album.
"Britain's answer to Ry Cooder" (The Guardian).
“After 20 years of recording music with various groups, singers and players I
finally put out my own album, Desert Road. Six tracks were written and recorded at
my flat in London in a two week period shortly after I had got back from an
inspiring trip to Bamako, Mali. I then trawled through piles of musical sketches
that I had been making over the past five years and found a series of pieces that
seemed to make a coherent whole. Weird little scribbles I had made on a
portastudio, never thinking anyone would hear them, now seemed in retrospect to
point toward the sound I had arrived at with these new tracks. It was a sound I had
in my head, with circular rhythms, like Moroccan trance, that awesome sense of
abandon that you hear in the old Blues singers as well as a Cairo muezzin chanting
from a minaret, and the atmosphere, mystery and sound shaping of the most trippy
dub.” - Justin Adams
photo credit: Banning Eyre copyright © 2003 all rights reserved