Showing posts with label Guinea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guinea. Show all posts

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Manding Archangel



Here's another recording that was featured not too long ago on another site - in this case Mangue Music, which posted it on January 10 of last year.

I hesitated before posting it again here, but in light of my last missive, which dealt with Yaya Bangoura and the fate of Guinean music since 1984, I figured, why not? Kadé Diawara is another Guinean artist who made the transition from state sponsorship under Sekou Touré to the modern era. And besides, L'Eternelle Kadé Diawara (Alpha Mamadou Cissé et Frères AMC 002, 1992) is so darn good, it's worth another listen!

I've been unable to find out much about Madame Diawara. I think she may have passed away recently, although I can't confirm that. She is (was?) from a musical family, performing since childhood. Earning the nickname of "The Manding Archangel," she was a member of l'Ensemble Instrumental National du Guinée in the '70s, making this remarkable video, apparently from a local broadcast:

Kadé Diawara & l'Ensemble Instrumental National - Armeé Guinéene

She made one LP for Editions Syliphone in 1976, L'Archange du Manding (SLP 62), a restrained effort with Moussa Konate and Abraham Kebe. I don't have it, but did find one track from it:

Kadé Diawara - Bélé Bélé

And then, in 1992, Madame Diawara made an outstanding comeback. The cassette L'Eternelle Kadé Diawara is quite an acheivement, combining modern technology, Manding tradition and a host of talented supporting musicians, notably Sekouba Bambino Diabaté. It is justly famed:

Kadé Diawara - A M'Boh

Kadé Diawara - N'Madjènè






At least two more releases followed.

Sadly, the story of Kadé Diawara's life doesn't seem to have a happy ending. According to this article, as of three years ago she had fallen on hard times, living off a modest pension and whatever she could scrape up singing at baptisms and weddings. The fate of too many musicians in Africa!

Download L'Eternelle Kadé Diawara as a zipped file here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The "New" Guinea Sound



From Independence in 1958 until the death of dictator Sekou Touré in 1984, there was only one record company in Guinea, the legendary Syliphone label. Not only that, all professional musicians in the country performed under the aegis of the Parti Démocratique de Guinée, the only legal political party. They were employed by the state, which provided musical instruments and venues. This could make for some uncomfortable situations, such as when when trumpet player Balla Onivogui fell afoul of some government bureaucrats in 1970 and was deposed as leader of his own group, Balla et ses Balladins, in favor of his sideman Pivi Moriba. "Pivi et ses Balladins" recorded one album before the status quo ante was restored when Sekou Touré himself intervened.

This all sounds like a very stifling state of affairs, but in fact during this period Guinea produced some of the most vital and original music to come out of the African continent. The official cultural  policy was Authenticité, which rejected European influences and sought a return to African roots for inspiration (similar policies were in place in Mali, Tanzania and Congo [Zaïre] for a time). It's all documented in an excellent 2-CD compilation on the Sterns label, Authenticité: The Syliphone Years (STCD 3025-26, 2007), ably curated by Dr. Graeme Counsel, which samples the 83 LPs and 77 45s released by Syliphone.

Several years ago Dr. Counsel finished digitizing Syliphone's archives in their entirety, including many, many recordings that were never pressed on vinyl. You can listen to all of them on the British Library's website. At the completion of this massive project Guinea's Ministry of Culture held a celebration, featuring among others the legendary Amazones de Guineé:


This Golden Age of Guinean music came to an end in 1984 when Sekou Touré died and Syliphone was scrapped. The many national and regional musical groups sponsored by the Ministry of Culture were cast to the vagaries of the free market. Some survived and still perform to this day. Many foundered. Taking the place of Syliphone were a number of independent labels, dealing now in cassettes rather than vinyl (I would assume cassettes also have gone by the wayside since, but who knows?).

Guinean music, freed from political constraints, has tended more toward the slick sound that typifies modern African popular music, often utilizing synthesizers but still making use of traditional instruments like the kora and balafon. It is often recorded outside Guinea, for instance in Abidjan's JBZ Studios, as was today's selection, Yaya Bangoura's La Patience (D.D. United 96002, 1996).

Bangoura typifies the "new" breed of Guinean musicians (that is, "new" as of 1996 - I confess to not having heard much recent music from that country, although I'm sure there's plenty). He was born in 1957 and became a teacher in 1982. However, he'd always had an interest in music and was a featured singer on Syli Authentique's 1976 album Dans l'Arène (Syliphone SLP 57). La Patience was his first solo recording effort, followed in short order by Kalanyi, Koule Yèlè and several tours which would take him to Europe, the United States and Canada.

Crippling back problems have forced "El Bangou" to perform in a chair for some time. I read, however, that he recently arrived in the US for specialized medical care. Here's hoping that he will continue to entertain us for many more years!

Yaya Bangoura - Koundara

Yaya Bangoura - Sabou Fanniyi

Yaya Bangoura - Super V

Yaya Bangoura - N'na Barana

Yaya Bangoura - Khakhili

Yaya Bangoura - Bariké

Yaya Bangoura - Denké Touré

Yaya Bangoura - Koundara

Download La Patience as a zipped file here.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

African Divas Vol. 1




With the kids back in school and monopolizing the computer, and me swamped under a ton of overtime, I just haven't been able to give this blog the attention it deserves. As usual, I have several posts in progress, which I'm putting the finishing touches on, but I haven't wrapped things up yet.

Still, I want to put something up, so here goes:

You're probably familiar with Matt Temple's blog Matsuli Music. Last year, shortly before I started Likembe, I compiled an installment in his great "African Serenades" series. It was Volume 47 in two parts, subtitled African Divas 1 and African Divas 2, a selection of great female vocalists from across the continent.

I'm really proud of the work I did on this collection, but it was only online for a week or two on Matsuli Music. So I'm bringing it back into the light of day here. Here's the tracklist for Volume One:

1. E Beh Kiyah Kooney – Princess Fatu Gayflor (Liberia)
2. Haya – Khadja Nin (Burundi)
3. Ndare – Cécile Kayirebwa (Rwanda)
4. Du Balai – Angèle Assélé (Gabon)
5. Kalkidan – Hamelmal Abate (Ethiopia)
6. Ezi Gbo Dim - Nelly Uchendu (Nigeria)
7. Odo (Love) – Sunsum Band featuring Becky B (Ghana)
8. Dikom Lam La Moto – Charlotte Mbango (Cameroun)
9. Kuteleza Si Kwanguka – Lady Isa (Kenya)
10. Vis à Vis – Monique Seka (Côte d’Ivoire)
11. Femme Commerçante – M’pongo Love (Congo-Kinshasa)
12. Fe, Fe, Fe – Tina Dakoury (Côte d’Ivoire)
13. Koumba – Tshala Muana (Congo-Kinshasa)
14. Fote – Djanka Diabate (Guinea)
There are a few tracks you will recognize if you've been following Likembe for a while, but most may be new to you. In a departure from my usual practice, I'm posting this as a zipped file (108 MB) rather than as individual tracks, as it was meant to be listened to as a unit. An inlay card has been included as a Word file if you want to make your own CD. Volume 2 will follow shortly:

African Divas Vol. 1

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pre-Festival Lagos 77




Contrary to the impression you might get from the title of this post, this one is not about Nigerian music (but I promise I'll be putting up some more of that soon!). Rather this is dedicated to an LP issued in Guinea prior to the legendary Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, or FESTAC '77, which was held in Lagos in 1977.

Drawing on my very rudimentary French-language skills, I take it that the groups featured on this recording, from various Guinean locales, were in competition to be their country's representative at the Lagos festival. The album (Syliphone SLP63), has never been reissued to my knowledge, nor have any of these wonderful recordings been featured on any of the recent compilations of classic Guinean music.

Télé-Jazz de Télimélé - Sensenko

Simandou-Jazz de Beyla - Bounika

Sonsornet Rythme de Boké - En Tout Cas. . .

Nimba-Jazz de N'Zérékoré - Babaniko