New and Old Music from Rail Band guitarist Djelimady Tounkara

Rail Band, Djelimady standing on the right side
The Super Rail Band, Djelimady standing on the right side
 Bamba Dembelé with Djelimady at the Houston International Festival
Bamba Dembelé with Djelimady at the 2001 Houston International Festival

"Solon Kono", was the last of the recent recording from Djelimady Tounkara. Recored with follow Malian musicians at the Studio Bogolan, Bamako, Mali in 2004 it was finally released in North America in 2006. Sadly his recordings are now only available as digital downloads. However you can now enjoy his early recordings on the Belle Epoque double CD series.

The Super Rail Band's 2001 North American tour coincided with the European release of Djelimady Tounkara's "Sigui" CD (Indigo, Label Bleu, 2001). Known for his fiery lead electric guitar playing with the Rail Band, Djelimady displays his virtuoso acoustic guitar work on this release. Sigui showcases Djelimady playing his Takamine acoustic with a personally selected ensemble of Malian musicians, featuring ngoni (African lute) djembe and driving vocals. Superably recorded, with HDCD encoding, "Sigui" delivers really exceptional sonics.

There are also recordings of the Rail Band with Djelimady playing electric guitar. The first one, Super Rail Band de Bamako, is lacking in both sonics and performance. However the 1995 release "Mansa" (Manding for king) is superior, in both respects. Giving up recording quality in favor of character and spirit is the French Import, "Rail Band" (Sono Disc). This archival recording features vocals by Mory Kanté and Salif Ketia. The recordings are old, in mono and quality is poor, however the music is killer. If you are into the real Manding music, you will love this CD.

Other acoustic Manding guitar music from Djelimady

The 1993 recording "Big String Theory" featured Djelimady with Bouba Sacko both playing acoustic guitar joined by male vocalist Lafia Diabate. The music contained in the recording is a shade mellower then Sigui but still shows off Djelimady's ability to it's fullest. This recording is currently out of print but Cora Connection has managed to get the remaining copies.

For more information on these recordings and the Rail band please visit:

More on Big String Theory

This project was instigated in 1992 by Globestyle Records' Ben Mandelson. The idea was to make a fiery, acoustic recording of the Malian music known as "bajourou"- literally "big string" or "big tune." This recording focusses on guitars highlighting intricate exchanges between two of this genre's top guitar players: Djelimady Tounkara and Bouba Sacko. Intent on bringing these two great players together for the first time. Mandelson and Lucy Duran travelled to the Mali capital, Bamako. Djelimady Tounkara is best known as lead guitarist of the Super Rail Band--the band that launched the careers of both Salif Keita and Mory Kante. Bouba Sacko has an impressive career of accompanying top jelimoussow--female griot singers--including the great Kandia Kouyate. President of Mali's fledgling music union and former Rail Band singer Lafia Biabate completed the team. Big String Theory was recorded direct to DAT in Bamako on acoustic instruments, and the session was followed by a 1993 tour of the UK. Critics were immediately won over by the group's dynamic energy. Bringing Tounkara and Sacko together was an idea that would never have happened without the input of the two English producers. While the two guitarists remain friends, they have never palyed together in recent years. So this recording has the added spark of two masters jostling for position in each others' worlds. Folk Roots editor Ian A. Anderson admitted to crying when he first heard the album because of its pure, unadulterated emotional power. -- Banning Eyre

Rare Recordings of Rail Band featuring Djelimady Tounkara and other Manding Super Stars,
Presenting the Rail Band 'Belle Epoque' Double CD Series

The Belle Epoque Rail Band retrospective compiled by Ibrahima Sylla, and is presented as three separate double CDs sets. The series is not organized chronologically and each 'volume' includes recordings from the 14-year span of 1970 to 1983.

Rail Band Belle Epoque Vol. 1 Soundiata
Rail Band Belle Epoque Vol. 2 Mansa
Rail Band Belle Epoque Vol. 3 Dioba

Documenting West Africa's post-colonial "belle epoque" of the 1960s and 1970s These three double CDs are an archive of the Rail Band recordings. Featured are early performances of Malian world music stars-to-be, Salif Keita and Mory Kante, accompanied by the great Djelimady Tounkara.

The Rail Band called what they played "Mandingo classicism" or "modern folklore." The track of Soundiata (Belle Epoque Vol. 1 - Soundiata (Sterns, 2007) was issued on Mali Stars series, and presents this epic track in all of it's glory. Belle Epoque Vol. 2 - Mansa (Sterns, 2008) includes five tracks with Salif Keita, five with Mory Kanté (including the title track, a 12-minute epic recorded in 1975), and eight others featuring singers Magan Ganessy or Djelimady Sissoko.

Dioba presents a selection of tracks recorded by the Rail Band between 1970 and 1983. Showcasing the Rail Band in all its splendid moods and colours: from Keita's spiritualised and virtuosic "Maki" and "Soyomba," through Ganessy's fierce going on feral "Kadia Kandian" and "Djamban," the re-Africanised Stax-Volt soul of Kante's "Mariba Yassa" and his mesmeric take on Afrobeat, "Sinsimba," spacier and nimbler than originator Fela Kuti's style, on to the rumba-infused "Foliba" and "Talassa." Two 1982 tracks, "Diby" and "Diabate," feature Alfred Coulibaly on keyboards.

Each Double CD set features a comprehensive booklet in English and French, with photos of the original album art. Each volume is only $20!

Rail Band Belle Epoque Vol. 1 Soundiata Order  
Rail Band Belle Epoque Vol. 2 Mansa Order  
Rail Band Belle Epoque Vol. 3 Dioba Order  
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Rail Band and Ambassadeurs discography & family tree.

Recordings featuring Djelimady Tounkara
I have one sealed copy of Solon Kono left!!!!
Please note these CDs are no longer available.
Solon Kono $20.00 * last copy! Order Quantity 
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Sigui, killer acoustic guitar with other instruments $17.00
Sigui sample trackMande DJeliou
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Big String Theory, Mellow Malian guitar duets with vocals Out Print, currently not available
Rail Band with Mory Kante and Salif Ketia,
Archival recordings of the Super Rail Band from the 1970's $17.00
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Rail Band, Mansa, The Full electric Band with additional horns and vocals $17.00 Order Quantity 
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Rail Band, Kongo Sigui $17.00
Possibility their best recording ever! Nine brilliantly recorded tracks, total time: 45 minutes.
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Sonics are excellent on Kongo Sigui, with Dejlimady Tounkara's glowing guitar work front and center. Included is one acoustic track with kora and what sounds like a 12 string guitar. A nice cooler addition to an otherwise high energy recording.This is quickly becoming my favorite Rail Band recording. With it's great performances and killer recording quality "Kongo Sigui" captures the essence Modern Malian dance music.

 Rail Band, Kongo Sigui CD cover
Kongo Sigui sample tracksMogo Gnayé KodolaSoryPirates

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