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Featuring hand picked West African recordings

Jali Kunda: Griots of West of Africa & Beyond

 photo of Foday Suso Journey through the Gambia, Guinea Bissau and southern Senegal's lush Casamance region. Experience the sights and sounds of kora country with Jali Kunda. Featuring seventy-five minutes of music. Digitaly recorded on location in the small villages that dot the coast of West Africa. Included are three modern tracks featuring original music performed by Foday Musa Suso and friends, recorded in New York City.

Meet Suso's extended family and hear their rich musical heritage. With help from Bill Laswell and award-winning French photographer Daniel Lain, Suso has woven a tasteful tapestry of sights and sounds. Kunda means home in the Mandinka language and Jali refers to a Manding musician, Jali Kunda -- musician home, in this case the family of Foday Musa Suso, Suso kunda. On this 75 minute long CD we are treated to recording sessions along the "smiling coast" of West Africa. Some of these outstanding music performances were recorded at Suso kunda, Foday's home base in Brikama, The Gambia.

Opening this 75 minute compact disc is the traditional song "Allah l'aa ke" -- God has done it, played by an ensemble of multiple koras and singers, full of life and energy. Next, an earthy track featuring the call and response of the melodic balaphones, deep sounding dundun drums and compelling vocals. Among the additional traditional kora tracks on this disc is an extended eight minute performance of the Manding classic "Lambango",
a song sung in praise of Jaliya, the art of playing music and singing a patron's praises.

 photo of cd and book There are other traditions represented on Jali Kunda too. Fula musician troupe play their one string horse hair violin called a nyanyer to the accompaniment of drums and powerful solo singing. Three modern tracks feature Foday Musa Suso playing kora augmented with high-tech studio wizardry. In "Spring Waterfall", Philip Glass's piano playing suggests spring rain falling over Suso's dreamy strums and plucked melodies from his 21 string kora. Also featured is jazz innovator Pharaoh Sander's seductive saxophone, along side Suso's imaginative kora. Together, they create a meditative performance piece that falls somewhere between jazz and New Age. Sandwiched among the traditional ensemble performances is a remix from Suso's ground breaking electro-kora funk album, New World Power.

A 96-page book features 40 colorful photographs that introduce you to the people of the Jali Kundas of West Africa. Noted French photographer Daniel Lain traveled with Suso through kora country and has captured a rare glimpse of the West African hereditary Manding jali.

images courtesy © Ellipsis Arts all rights reserved
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