Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ogenes on Fire!

Thanx and a tip of the Hatlo Hat to Andy Healey, who alerted us to the existence of this incredible, mind-blowing sample of Igbo Roots music by Shidodo & ensemble from eastern Nigeria:

The amiri, or Igbo flute, gets things going here, soon joined by the ashakala, or calabash rattle. Especially notable is the masterly use of the ogene, the traditional Igbo double bell. I've never seen or heard ogenes used in ensemble in quite this manner - very interesting. The abia (drums) and opi (the conch-shell instrument that sounds like an ocarina) round things out beautifully.

With so many music videos out of Nigeria lately "underwhelming" (to say the least), it's a real pleasure to showcase one that really does justice to the true beauty and complexity of Igbo culture. More fascinating videos by Shidodo here, here, and here. And kudos to Codewit, who has diligently posted over a hundred videos like this on YouTube.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dakar Divas Pt. 4: Ndeye Mbaye

Like Kiné Lam and Daro Mbaye, Ndeye Mbaye is a veteran of the Ensemble Lyrique Traditionel of Senegal's esteemed Daniel Sorano National Theatre, which she directed from 1987 to 1990. Previously she was a member of the National Ballet of Senegal for seven years starting in 1965.

Mbaye's cassette release Kóllëré (SAPROM, early '90s), a Youssou N'Dour production (he appears on one track), amply displays her expansive voice as well as top-flight work by an ensemble that includes Vieux M. Faye on lead guitar and Mbaye Dieye Faye on percussion. "Liiti Liiti" is a traditional song that has been recorded by numerous artists, including Orchestre Baobab (on A Night at Club Baobab, [Oriki 6129372, 2007]), but Ndeye's version is my favorite by far:

Ndeye Mbaye - Liiti Liiti

Ndeye Mbaye - Saxalaat

Ndeye Mbaye - Serigne Fallou

Ndeye Mbaye with Youssou N'Dour - Damel Fall

The limitations of the cassette format just don't do this music justice. The recording quality of Ndeye's cassette Ndaamal Daaru (Génie Musique, early '90s) is even more restricted, nor does the music reach
Kóllëré's exalted level, in my opinion. It still features some notable music, though, including these two tracks:

Ndeye Mbaye - Nelson Mandela

Ndeye Mbaye - Aduna Ack Lici Biram

Friday, February 8, 2008

Dakar Divas Pt. 3: Aby Ngana Diop

Liitaal, by Aby Ngana Diop, is one of those recordings that sneaks up behind you, knocks you upside the head with a two-by-four, and leaves you dazed and bleeding on the sidewalk, wondering what hit you.

I know absolutely nothing about this Senegalese chanteuse, nor does anyone else, but that hasn't stopped those who have heard this early '90s cassette (apparently her only recording) from going absolutely bonkers (just Google her name if you don't believe me).

Continuing the sporadic series "Dakar Divas," here is Liital in its two-fisted, glorious, astonishing entirety. Aby Ngana Diop - truly a singer worthy of the name diva!

Aby Ngana Diop - Dieueul-Dieuleul

Aby Ngana Diop - Ndame

Aby Ngana Diop - Yaye Penda Mbaye

Aby Ngana Diop - Liital

Aby Ngana Diop - Sapaly

Aby Ngana Diop - Ndadje

Update: Thanks to Matthew Lavoie from the VOA African Music Treasures blog, for providing some essential background information on Aby Ngana Diop and her music. According to Matt, Mme. Diop was born in the Dakar region and was the area's most famous tassukat (tassu being
a form of sung Wolof rhythmic verse that is often used to impart traditional values to children). Matt writes, ". . . She performed in Europe a few times and appeared on stage with Doudou N'Diaye Rose. Most of her performances though were at baptisms and weddings in and around Dakar. Your post sparked my curiosity. I have been trying to learn more about her life. So far, I've come up short. I spoke with Mbaye Gueye, who produced the cassette, and he knew nothing about her. I've also spoken to several music journalists in Dakar. . . nothing. I'll keep you posted." Matt also reports that he's heard that Aby Ngana Diop passed away in the late '90s, between '96 and '98, although he can't confirm this.