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.