Another musician from the Gambia winds up our look at "updated" kora music. Unlike the two previous artists featured here, I was able to find out a fair bit about Mr. Jaliba Kuyateh, who is called "The Cultural Ambassador of the Gambia."
He has been playing the kora since the age of five and has been performing with his group, the Kumarehs, since the early '90s. They have toured the United States as well as throughout Europe.
Like the music of Ebrima Tata Jobateh, Kuyateh's sound combines vigorous kora playing with a full array of electric instruments and drum kit as well as local percussion. The cassette Hera Bangku (Kerewan Sounds, 1995) is an excellent introduction to his music. Enjoy!
Jaliba Kuyateh & the Kumarehs - Hera Bangku
Jaliba Kuyateh & the Kumarehs - Sherifolu
Jaliba Kuyateh & the Kumarehs - Julu-Jo
Jaliba Kuyateh & the Kumarehs - Fitna
Jaliba Kuyateh & the Kumarehs - Kebalang Camara
Jaliba Kuyateh & the Kumarehs - Nyananding
Download Hera Bangku as a zipped file here. More music by Jaliba Kuyateh is available here.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Friday, January 1, 2010
I'm not sure Ama Maïga's Une Fleche Malienne (Disques Sonics SONICS 79426, ca. 1984) succeeds completely as a fusion between traditional Malian kora sounds and modern African pop, but it was one of the first, and certainly bears a listen or two. Graeme Counsel's Burkinabé vinyl discography notes a 1976 pressing by Maïga, but that's the extent of what I've been able to find out about him. He recorded this one-off in Paris with a crew of session musicians and then dropped off the map, never to be heard from again. Enjoy!
Ama Maïga - Keleya
Ama Maïga - Lannaya-Tilebana
Ama Maïga - Souboury
Ama Maïga - Djougou Sago
Download Une Fleche Malienne as a zipped file here.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Researching that last post has got me to pondering the ways in which the kora, the traditional 21-string harp-lute of West Africa, has been combined with more modern sounds. There are plenty of examples, from the musical fusions of Foday Musa Suso and Djeli Moussa Diawara to Toumani Diabate's collaborations with Taj Mahal and Björk, to, incredibly, Naughty By Nature's 1991 smash hit "O.P.P."
None of these attempts to update the classic sound, in my opinion, approach the pure polyphonic joy of Ebrima Tata Jobateh's cassette Waato, recorded with his group Salam (apparently members of his extended family) and released by Kerewan Sounds in Gambia in 1995.
Efforts to find out more about this mysterious artist didn't yield much save this observation by Nick Deen of Natari: ". . . Tata's solo style is extremely impressive and in fact leaves the older Paris-based kora players like Mory Kante very much in the shade. Absolute magic all the way through." Of course, I wholeheartedly agree with Nick's assessment! Hear for yourself:
Tata & Salam Band - San-Chaba
Tata & Salam Band - Sabarla
Tata & Salam Band - Mali-Gambia
Tata & Salam Band - Boto Sanneh
Tata & Salam Band - Mariama Jallow
Tata & Salam Band - Kaira
Tata & Salam Band - Duwa
Tata & Salam Band - Alagie Danso
You can download Waato as a zipped file here. More new-fangled kora sounds to follow.
Monday, December 21, 2009
The Casamance region of southern Senegal has been the scene of sporadic fighting over the years between the central government and the separatist Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de Casamance (MFDC). The area was formerly a Portuguese possession and is culturally distinct from the rest of Senegal. The name "Casamance" is said to derive from the Portuguese word for "house" combined with the Mandinka word for "king." An alternative explanation attributes the name to an old kingdom in the region called Kassa.
The music of Casamance also differs from the mainstream Senegalese sound, having more in common with the music of Guinea and Mali, with a distinctive Lusophone flavor. Orchestre Baobab, Toure Kunda and Xalam all have roots in the region, but the foremost musical group in the area has been the Sedhiou Band, variously known as UCAS de Sedhiou or the UCAS Jazz Band.
The Sedhiou Band was founded in 1959 as the musical group of the Union Cultural Association in the town of Sedhiou, and has had a varied lineup over the years. The most recent configuration features Ibrahima Sylla Dia on lead guitar, vocals by Abdoulaye Dandou Diedhiou, Seydou Ndao, Amadou Leye Sarr and Aminata Dieng Ndiaye, and a battery of percussionists and other musicians. The group came to the attention of most African music fans outside of Senegal when Africa Kambeng (Africassette AC9404) was released in 1998, a recording that is still in print and available from Amazon and Sterns.
The Sedhiou Band have released numerous recordings over the years (a 1970s LP is available from Worldservice here). I possess four cassettes by the group released during the 1990s, from which I present selections here. It's a sort of "Sedhiou Band Best of the '90s," as it were.
The title track of Saaroo, released in 1992, is distinguished by the kora playing of Sirakata Diebaté, who also features prominently on "Kambeng" from the same cassette:
UCAS de Sedhiou - Saaroo
UCAS de Sedhiou - Kambeng
I wish I knew the name of the female singer who graces the lovely song "Nenne Suuxo," permeated with a sense of saudade, that opens A Paris, issued in 1993. "Yaa Musoolu," from the same cassette, definitely kicks things up a notch:
UCAS Band Jazz de Sedhiou - Nenne Suuxo
UCAS Band Jazz de Sedhiou - Yaa Musoolu
In 1997 the Sedhiou Band made several recordings for the Gambia-based label Kerewan Sounds, and these reflect Gambian concerns. Notable is this praise song to the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, a political party that grew out of a military coup in the Gambia in 1994 and swept the 1997 elections. It continues to rule the country amid charges of intimidation of opposition parties. This is from the cassette Dimbayaa:
Sedhiou Band - A.P.R.C.
Also from Dimbayaa is this lively tune:
Sedhiou Band - Khady Kebe
Africa Kambeng, also released in 1997 by Kerewan Sounds, continues the theme of uptempo dance music combined with political paeans. "22nd July Movement" is a praise song to the 1994 miltary coup:
Sedhiou Band - 22nd July Movement
Here's another praise song, but apparently not a political one. There is a Senegalese professional basketball player named Ndeye Ndiaye, but she would have been 18 when this song was recorded, so it's probably not about her. I wish I knew more:
Sedhiou Band - Ndeye Ndiaye
Download these tracks as a zipped file here. If you enjoy this music, go to this post about Ramiro Naka from Guinea-Bisaau, and see if you don't hear a connection.