Showing posts with label Mali. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mali. Show all posts

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Queen of Wassoulou

Kudos to The Lost Maestros for posting this wonderful video (from World Service's YouTube channel) of the Malian diva Coumba Sidibe. I have nothing to add to their summary of her career:

Mali's Coumba Sidibe was a pioneering force behind the evolution of wassoulou, the earthy, propulsive music that first captured the imagination of west African listeners in the mid-'70s. A singer of elemental power, she set the stage for a generation of artists including Oumou Sangaré, Issa Bagayogo, and Nahawa Doumbia, although their international fame consistently eluded her. 
Born in Koninko, Mali in 1950, Sidibe began singing at regional harvest festivals at the age of seven, following in the footsteps of her father Diara, a famed dancer and sorcerer skilled in the ecstatic percussion and dance tradition known as sogoninkun, and her mother, a vocalist of great local renown. 
The first female member of l'Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali, a state-sponsored orchestra created to represent the nation's folkloric traditions, Sidibe exited their ranks in 1977 to team with Alata Brulaye, the creator of the kamelengon, a six-string harp modeled on the sacred dosongoni, an instrument effectively off limits to popular musicians. 
The kamelengoni's funky, percussive sound quickly emerged as the foundation of the wassoulou aesthetic, a neo-traditional style that threatened the long-standing cultural dominance of Mali's jelis, the music-making caste whose roots date back to the 13th century. While the jelis performed traditional songs targeted to the wealthy and powerful, the so-called "kono" (i.e., the predominantly female "songbirds" at the forefront of the wassoulou movement) addressed contemporary themes like romance and feminism; hits like "Diya ye Banna" earned Sidibe the unofficial title "Queen of Wassoulou," and her backing group Le Super Mansa de Wassoulou was the launching pad for future superstars including Sangaré, arguably the most successful Malian artist of her generation. While a revered figure in her homeland, Sidibe never attracted the attention of the world music cognoscenti, and in the late '90s she and her family relocated to New York City, where she headlined a Sunday night residency at Harlem's St. Nick's Pub. Sidibe died in Brooklyn on May 10, 2009.
Today I present two cassettes from the early '90s by Sidibe. Here's the first, Wary (Shakara Music SHA 09032):

Coumba Sidibe - Wary

Coumba Sidibe - Mougoukan

Coumba Sidibe - Didady

Coumba Sidibe - Kana Kassi

Coumba Sidibe - Konyan

Coumba Sidibe - Nalena

Download Wary as a zipped file here. And here's the second, Dounouyan (Shakara Music/Syllart SHA 02901):

Coumba Sidibe - Dounouyan

Coumba Sidibe - Ninin

Coumba Sidibe - Baba

Coumba Sidibe - Tché Kani Wélé

Coumba Sidibe - Héé!! Ndanani

Coumba Sidibe - Ka Lonongon Yan

Download Dounouyan as a zipped file here.

More music by Coumba Sidibe is available on the Sterns compilations The Wassoulou Sound: Women of Mali (STCD 1035, 1991) and The Wassoulou Sound: Women of Mali Vol. 2 (STCD 1048, 1994), available through the usual purveyors. The Lost Maestros, by the way, is a wonderful effort to bring back to light some of the forgotten masters of Malian music. Read this article (in French) here, or go to the Facebook page here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Mind-Blowing Sounds from Mali

Since its foundation in 1970 as the official orchestra of Mali's National Railway Company, the Rail Band has occupied a prominent place in the firmament of West African music, and through its ranks have passed some of the most respected musicians in the region. The band's Affair Social (Sacodis LS-25, 1979) is such a spectacular, mind-blowing achievement that I figured one of the other African music blogs must have posted it long ago. But apparently not, so here it is!

Affair Social was recorded during a tumultuous period for the Rail Band, relocated to Abidjan, Ivory Coast from Bamako and rechristened the Super Rail Band International. Salif Keita, the group's lead singer, had decamped in 1972 to found Les Ambassadeurs du Motel and later gained world fame as part of the World Music™ craze. He was replaced by Mory Kante, an equally gifted vocalist, who by the time Affair Social was recorded had also departed for a solo career. Other members of the "classic" Rail Band lineup, among them founder Tidiani Koné, had similarly moved on.

Perservering, though, was Djelimady Tounkara, one of Africa's greatest guitarists, who reestablished the band with new personnel, none of whom, unfortunately, is credited in the liner notes of Affair Social. The Super Rail Band International have continued performing and recording to this day, still under the able leadership of Tounkara. Enjoy!

Download Affair Social as a zipped file here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

African Divas Vol. 4

Once again I'm forced to apologize for the infrequency of my posts lately. As usual, I have several projects in the hopper, but all kinds of personal business has intervened to prevent me from finishing them.

Fortunately, what should come over the transom but a fine new compilation by our friend Ken Abrams, who was responsible for a couple of installments in the fondly remembered African Serenades series a few years back. Ken calls this collection of tracks by female artists "African Woman is Boss" (a play on a calypso, "Woman is Boss") but with his permission I'm rechristening it African Divas Vol. 4, since I've been wanting to put together another installment in that series for some time.

Mostly off the World Music™ radar, these chanteuses are testimony to the talent and artistry of Africa's female singers. Enjoy!

1. Deka - Ade Liz (Cote d'Ivoire)
2. Fide (Le Repos) - N. Lauretta (Cameroun)
3. Mumi We Njo - Cella Stella (Benin)
4. Je Caime Larsey - Lady Talata (Ghana)
5. Oa - Betuel Enola (Cameroun)
6. Time - Sissy Dipoko (Cameroun)
7. Shameributi - Oyana Efiem Pelagie & Soukous Stars (Gabon)
8. Komeka Te - Pembey Sheiro (Congo)
9. Mu Mengu - Itsiembu-y-Mbin (Cameroun)
10. Mbo Ya? - Lolo (Cameroun)
11. Gbaunkalay - Afro National (Sierra Leone)
12. Gnon Sanhon - Rose Ba (Togo)
13. Djombo - Hadja Soumano (Mali)
14. Kanyama - Amayenge (Zambia)
15. Mesa Ko Noviwo O - Okyeame Kwame Bediako & his Messengers (Ghana)
16. Mede Yta - Yta Jourias (Togo)
17. Play Play - Wulomei (Ghana)
Download African Divas Vol 4 here (and you can get Vol. 1 here, Vol. 2 here, and Vol. 3 here). Be advised also that in addition to his musical interests, Ken Abrams is a talented artist. Check out his work here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Malian Arrow

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.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Africa Roots Vol. 4

I'll be out of town for a week and don't expect to be able to blog, but I wanted to get something in, so this one's a quickie.

I never managed to snag Vols. 1-3 of the legendary Africa Roots series, recorded at the Melkweg in Amsterdam in the early '80s. I did get hold of the fourth and final (?) installment, and what a wonderful recording it is!

Click on the picture below to read about the artists and the songs. The standout here is Mali's legendary Salif Keita along with the equally fabled Kante Manfila and Ousmane Kouyate, who deliver a scorching rendition of the Ambassadeurs classic "Primpin." Senegal's Baaba Maal, Algeria's Cheb Mami, Angola's Bonga and A.B. Crentsil from Ghana don't disappoint either with inspired renditions of some of their greatest songs. It's all good!

Listening to these tracks will take some of you back to the exciting days of the '80s when every day brought a new revelation for us African music fans and World Music™ had yet to be conceived. Enjoy!

Salif Keita & Les Ambassadeurs - Primpin

Baaba Maal & l'Orchestre - Dental

Baaba Maal & l'Orchestre - Yela

Baaba Maal & l'Orchestre - Lomtoro

Cheb Mami - Sanlou Ala Enabi

Bonga - Kua' Sanzala

Bonga - Camin Longe

A.B. Crentsil - Osokoo

A.B. Crentsil - Atia

A.B. Crentsil - Ahurusi

Saturday, September 27, 2008

African Divas Vol. 2

As promised, here is African Divas Vol. 2, originally posted last year as African Serenades Vol. 47b at Matsuli Music.

I apologize for the brevity of this post. Perhaps in the future when I have more time I will update it to include background information about these wonderful singers:

1. Abidjan Adja - Antoinette Konan (Côte d'Ivoire)
2. Barika Barika - Djeneba Seck (Mali)
3. Meta Meta - Martha Ashagari (Ethiopia)
4. Ami - Bebe Manga (Cameroun)
5. Ekwe - Onyeka Onwenu (Nigeria)
6. Medim Me Yom - Tity Edima (Cameroun)
7. La Paille et la Poutre - Nimon Toki Lala (Togo)
8. Mundeke - Afrigo Band featuring Rachael Magoola (Uganda)
9. Takko Wade - Kiné Lam (Senegal)
10. Keffa - Abonesh Adnew (Ethiopia)
11. Nyu Madin - Marthe Zambo (Cameroun)
12. Don't Let Me Go - Hindirah (Côte d'Ivoire)
13. Pare Chocs - Vonga Aye (Congo)
14. Dieleul-Dieuleul - Aby Ngana Diop (Senegal)
African Divas Vol. 2

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mali Cassette Grab Bag: Two Mamadou Doumbias and More

This is the final installment of "Mali Cassette Grab Bag," and this one really is a mixed bag. We've got some highlife, some soukous, some kamalan n'goni and a Burkinabé ballad. Researching the artists has been an education for me. Among other things, I chanced across the website of Yaala Yaala Records, which is dedicated to releasing just the sort of music we've been listening to in the last few posts:

In 1999 I moved with my wife and young son to Bougouni, a town on the edge of Mali’s culturally rich Wassulu region. I’d listened to and enjoyed such Malian musical imports as Oumou Sangare, Ali Farka Toure, Salif Keita, Toumani Diabite and Habib Koite while still living in the States and was excited to get to Mali to learn more about these and other artists.

I learned very quickly that there was a huge gulf between what many people out in Bougouni listened to and what was being exported to the West; many local Malians made dismissive sounds with their mouths when I mentioned the above musicians. Many of the cassette vendors I got to know stared blankly when I asked about certain artists.

I began to suspect that much of the music I’d heard back in the States was almost created for export rather than for local consumption, and whether or not this was objectively true did not matter. From my perspective it was true. Out en brousse, in the bush, on Radio Banimotie and blaring forth from battery-driven boomboxes and handheld radios carried by any number of people wandering through Southern Mali, there existed an entirely different world of music and sound that I found infinitely more interesting and exciting than the slick pop music made in French, British or Belgian studios.

Much of this music was home-grown music performed locally for little else beyond an immediate audience’s enjoyment; it was traditional or folk music but in the hands of the endlessly inventive and dynamic local musicians it exemplified the best qualities of the do-it-yourself attitude that I’d grown up with back home.

The name Yaala Yaala was taken directly from what many a Bougounian musician would answer when asked “Ça va?” (how’s it going?); “Yaala yaala,” they’d answer. Just wandering.

Yaala Yaala Records’ goal is to release this music, in addition to similar music from parts of the world, particularly Mali and West Africa, that you might hear if you were wandering yourself among the cassette stalls in Bougouni, Bamako, Kolondieba, Sikasso, Segou, Fez, Marrakesh, Cairo, Dakar.

We’re releasing this music for no other reason than we like it!

An attitude with which I wholeheartedly concur! This description of the music scene in Mali pretty much squares with my experiences in Nigeria in 1994 and '95: It wasn't that the average person didn't listen to Sunny Adé or Fela (who was still alive and performing then, a couple of years before he died; I could just kick myself for not catching an advertised concert in Lagos when I was there!) or the other official World Music™ icons. They respected them, but those guys were pretty much old hat. The common folk had a whole 'nother universe of sounds they were tuned into, which blared out of market stalls and taxicabs across the country: Igbo gospel accompanied by cheapo synthesizers and drum machines, wailing, warbling Islamic vocals, soul-thumping perscussion, Hausa praise-singing and hysterical guitar highlife. . .

But I digress. While researching our first four selections on the internet, I was presented with a bit of a quandary. I had thought that these recordings were all by the same artist, but it seems that they are by two different musicians named Mamadou Doumbia, one from Mali and the other from Côte d'Ivoire! And to further befuddle matters, there is yet another Malian musician named Mamadou Doumbia residing in Tokyo, who once played with the Rail Band and Salif Keita and has a band called Mandinka (not to mention an Ivoirian footballer by the same name, who as far as I know has no musical talent!)

I think I've got things sorted out now, so let's proceed: Our first Mamadou Doumbia, "alias Percey," was lead vocalist for Super Biton de Segou, one of Mali's foremost orchestras of the 1980s. When Super Biton fell apart, he struck out on his own, making at least one recording, 1992's outstanding Kelea Diougou (Camara Production 047), from which we take two tracks, "Momdole" and "Secheresse (Dabakala)." "Momdole" is unusual in that it is a melody in the Burkina Faso style.

Mamadou Doumbia alias Percey - Momdole

Mamadou Doumbia alias Percey - Secheresse (Dabakala)

Our next Mamadou Doumbia has apparently been around since the sixties, but that's all I can tell you about him. He gives us two highlife-style songs, "Mariama" and "Olonan," from his 1993 release Mariama (no label YR 07). As an Ivoirian, this Mamadou technically doesn't belong in a post entitled "Mali Cassette Grab-Bag," but who wants to split hairs?

Mamadou Doumbia & l'Orchestre Conseil de l'Entente - Mariama

Mamadou Doumbia & l'Orchestre Conseil de l'Entente - Olonan

And as for the third Mamadou Doumbia, I would love to put up some music by him, but unfortunately don't have any.

Abdoulaye Diabaté, born in Segou in1952, has been singing since he was eight and professionally since 1974, at first in Mali and later in Côte d'Ivoire, and has lately drawn international attention with a series of CD releases. "Fantanya" is the opening track of his casseette Namawou (Syllart SYL 83135):

Abdoulaye Diabaté - Fantanya

Yoro Diallo is from the Wassoulou region, which has produced so many wonderful Malian vocalists, and is a master of the kamalan n'goni, a relative of the kora. Awhile back Awesome Tapes from Africa posted a whole cassette by this artist, and the above-mentioned Yaala Yaala Records has released a CD devoted to his music. I give you here " Tognomagni" from his release Tjekorobani Vol. 2 (Camara Production CK7 157):

Yoro Diallo - Tognomagni

Finally, a track by Djelimadi Sissoko. There is a kora player by that name, who has made some recordings with the veteran maestro Sidiki Diabate, but this song, "Sory Kadia," from the compilation Sabougnouna (no label 7488) is so radically different in style that I'm wondering if this isn't another case of one name, two musicians. Anyway, "Sory Kadia" is ample proof that the wave of soukous that swept out of the Congo in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties did not bypass Mali!

Djelimadi Sissoko - Sory Kadia

As I mentioned earlier, "Mali Cassette Grab Bag" came about because I haven't had time to digitize a lot of new material, so I've been posting stuff that I've had on my hard-drive for some time. I've been working on digitizing some early '70s LPs by the late, great Stephen Osita Osadebe, and hope to have them up, with the requisite commentary, in the next week.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mali Cassette Grab Bag: Djeneba Seck, Tata Bambo Kouyate, Naïny Diabate, Yayi Kanoute, Djamy Kouyate

We continue our "Mali Cassette Grab-Bag," a series of clips drawn more or less at random from the recesses of my hard-drive. Next up: five wonderful female singers, some of whom are rather well
known, others about whom I can tell you very little. I included a track by Djeneba Seck on African Serenades Vol. 47b, which was featured on Matsuli Music a few months back (and I'm planning to re-post that two-part compilation here some time in the future; watch this space!). Listen here to "Kankeletigui," the title track of her debut release (EMI Côte d'Ivoire AM 92003, 1992) and "Malidenw" from her sophomore effort Konkankokônôni (Camara Production CK7 263, 1995). To learn more about this lovely vocalist, go here.

Djeneba Seck - Kankeletigui

Djeneba Seck - Malidenw

About Naïny Diabate and Djamy Kouyate I know absolutely nothing. Naïny contributes "Farafina Mousso" from her cassette of the same name (Camara Production CK7 030) while Djamy Kouyate gives us "Astou Damba" from her release Tamba (Camara Production CK7 032). Click on the pictures below to get a better look at the cover art.

Naïny Diabate - Farafina Mousso

Djamy Kouyate - Astou Damba

Tata Bambo Kouyate made a bit of a splash in the late '80s when two LPs by her,
Djeli Mousso (Syllart SYL 8360, 1988) and Jatigui (Globestyle ORB 042, 1989) were released in the UK. She comes from a family of jaliya, or praise singers, and first achieved fame at the 1969 Pan-African Music Festival in Algiers. The tune Tata gives us here, "Djeneba Diallo" from Oury Soucko (Samassa SAM 077592-4, 1992) amply demonstrates why she is considered a jali without peer in Mali. Yayi Kanoute plays a prominent role in Chapter 7 of Banning Eyre's book In Griot Time (Temple University Press, 2000) and his collection of field recordings In Griot Time (Sterns STCD 1089, 2000) features an outstanding tune by her. "Seremene" is from her first release, Djugu Magni (Samassa KBK 912, 1990).

Tata Bambo Kouyate - Djeneba Diallo

Yayi Kanoute - Seremene

I forgot to mention this in my last post, but I will now: If you like the music you've heard here, there's plenty more like it at Awesome Tapes From Africa.

Coming up next: Mamadou Doumbia, Abdoulaye Diabate and more!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Mali Cassette Grab-Bag: Zani Diabate

Since I started this blog I've been trying to post at least twice a week. Lately I've been so caught up in other things (namely "real life") that I just realized that it's been a week since my last submission. While casting about for something to write about I remembered that about a year ago I digitized a whole bunch of Malian cassettes that were lying in the bottom of a cardboard box in my office. So . . . what could be easier than to just slap them up here for your perusal? I was originally going to post a big number of clips today, but I've decided to space them out over several days. Today, Zani Diabate's 1991 cassette release Ni Zani Mana.

Robert Christgau, formerly of the Village Voice, calls himself "The Dean of American Rock Critics." Uh, okay. He had this to say about Diabate's 1988 LP Zani Diabate & the Super Djata Band (Mango MLPS 9814):

. . . What jumps out of the speakers isn't the Malian Jimi of the jacket copy but a groove harsher than Zaire's and more ferocious than Senegal's. There's lots of cheesy keyb[oard] in the mix; full-repeat call-and-response and mullah harangues stir up the hectic mood. It's on top of all this that you get the guitar, which sings and declaims and shouts out loud instead of just chiming or chattering. I find the hottest soukous relaxing. I put this on to wake up.
Diabate was born in 1947 and served his apprenticeship with the National Ballet of Mali before starting his group Super Djata. Graeme Counsel's Discography of Malian Vinyl Recordings lists nine recordings by the group (Ni Zani Mana makes at least ten) but the only ones I've actually heard are Ni Zani Mana (Oubien Productions OU009) and the aforementioned Mango release. I'd place Ni Zani Mana more toward the "mellow" end of the scale, but it's every bit as exciting as Super Djata in its own way. Diabate's obviously been listening not only to his Hendrix but to Wes Montgomery and who knows what else, but he's a true original. It's unfortunate that he isn't better known. Enjoy!

Zani Diabate - Ni Zani Mana

Zani Diabate - Ha Kili Maya

Zani Diabate - Doussou

Zani Diabate - Boolon

Zani Diabate - Himi

Zani Diabate - Monaitheban

Coming up soon: Djeneba Seck, Mamadou Doumbia, and more!