March 20, 2018

Le Poète à 80

A tribute to Le Poète Lutumba Simaro, on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

Tracks (all composed by Simaro):
01. Na Lifelo Bisengo Ezali Te (Orchestre Mi)
02. Fifi Nazali Innocent (O.K. Jazz)
03. Motema Na Yo Retroviseur (T.P. O.K. Jazz)
04. Mambo Mucho (Kongo Jazz)
05. Affaire Kitikwala (T.P. O.K. Jazz)
06. Oko Regretter Ngai Mama (T.P. O.K. Jazz)
07. Inoussa (T.P. O.K. Jazz)
08. Santa Guy Guyna (O.K. Jazz)
09. Mado Aboyi Simaro (O.K. Jazz)
10. Annie Obosani Ngai? (O.K. Jazz)
11. Odutaka Na Vie Mon Cher (T.P. O.K. Jazz)
12. Lisana Ebandaki Na Kin Malebo (Orchestre Mi)
13. Testament Ya Bowule (live TV) (T.P. O.K. Jazz)

January 02, 2018


I am well aware that it has been over a year since the last post on this blog. I hope to change this in 2018, but am making no promises. Fortunately others are still going strong or have in the last year returned to blogging.
Besides the usual subjects (the work of Franco and his O.K. Jazz, music from Mali and such) I hope to share some traditional music with you in the year which has just started.

But first a post about a cassette which has resurfaced occasionally in the last two decades since I copied it from my friend Faas. A cassette which has intrigued me because of its rare mix of traditional and modern elements. The cassette is by the Ensemble Instrumental Raoul Follereau de Bamako, an ensemble which I have been unable to trace in Mali and which none of the artists I have spoken to (in the past) have ever heard of. That is one of the intriguing elements...

It doesn't take too much imagination to figure out that there must be a link to the Fondation Raoul Follereau. This assertion is backed up by the first track on the B-side, which is about this journalist, writer and welldoer of French origin. Raoul Follereau, who died in 1977, is best known for his struggle against leprosy and poverty. He did not created the foundation which carries his name (this was founded 7 years after his death), but did inspire its foundation. The man appears to have been inspired in turn by Charles de Foucauld*, although perhaps I should write that he used Foucauld for his personal objectives. And these were - in retrospect - not as elevated and pure as the creation of a foundation in his name may suggest, - or as they may have seemed at the time. Follereau founded the Fondations Charles de Foucauld in order to rebuild the French church of the Sahara ("reconstruire l'Église française du Sahara"). The key words in this are "french" and "church", for - very much in the spirit of the 1930s - nationalism and christianity were very much part of Follereau's philosophy. In 1927 he had created "la Ligue de l’Union latine", "destinée à défendre la civilisation chrétienne contre tous les paganismes et toutes les barbaries" (to defend christian civilisation against paganism and barbarism). Of course (and like present-day nationalistic movements) the superiority of the own, national culture was not in dispute.
Follereau went as far as to join forces with all those willing to fight the "complot judéo-maçonnique", openly praising Mussolini and supporting the Vichy regime during WWII.
Although this may have nothing to do with the work of the Fondation, it does perhaps raise some questions about the motives of the organisation. The French have always had a tendency to promote their way of thinking, under the guise of 'francophonie' or 'collaboration'. And it is surprising how little this has done to really help the countries and societies which were the target of French aide.

Back to the cassette.
The cassette was released in 1993, i.e. five years after the last 'old style' Biennale. Still the music does evoke memories of these great events, which coincidentally were relaunched last week in Bamako (although apparently not everyone agreed that this was the right moment to do so).
Particularly the chorus reminds me of the great choruses I have seen and heard. What I find refreshing with these choruses is the lack of pretence. Although the girls all sings in unison, they still create the impression of being an unruly (but happy) group of individuals. Most of the instruments accompanying the girls are those one would expect with an ensemble instrumental from Mali: kora, balafon, flutes, bolon, drums.
The twist is in the addition of an electric guitar. And what a nice guitar it is. This is the kind of guitar one would occasionally hear with a djeli, or with Abdoulaye Diabaté: plenty of reverb and smooth as silk.

This is nice music to dream away, to glide smoothly into the new year.
Happy New Year.

Ensemble Instrumental Raoul Follereau de Bamako(AFR 001, 1993)

* for those who can read French: the entry in the French wikipedia is much more elaborate.

November 30, 2016

Best of Taarab updated

I am still looking for a way to get some kind of logging of the changes and updates to earlier posts. In the meantime this update seems worth a separate post.

Posts which have been updated in 2016:
- Diabate (Abdoulaye Diabaté & Le Kéné Star)
- Staying O.K. (three O.K. Jazz singles)
- Succes Zaïrois (two compilations of 1960s Congolese hits)

The update to Best of taarab was sent to me by Pauly Becquart, residing in Tanzania.
He writes: "The cassette contains tracks from 4 volumes of "Best of Taarab" published earlier by Melodica, Nairobi.
Song B6 is named "Walimwengu wanaina" and song B7 is "Khiyana"; both are from Vol. 3 (see cover).

The infos I got at Melodica while buying these cassettes more than 20 years ago is that at the base the band is Black Star Musical Club with Kibwana Saidi and Sharmila at vocals.

Black Star Musical Club is a band originating from Tanga, Tanzania. At the time of these songs it was very difficult for Tanzanian band to travel for political reasons. Many bands recording in Kenya didn't want their name published as they didn't want to get into trouble in Tanzania. For this reason many records are published under wacky names (e.g. 'Ewe Mola' and 'Karibu ramadhani' published by Melodica on 7'' single on label Halal QM 001A under the name Yahoos Band & Hafusa Abbasi and also on the Vol. 4 of Best of Taarab under 'no name' ...)
(Tanzania never got any vinyl production up to now, perhaps this last couple of years because of the uprising of music production in Tz, but I don't think so, never had heard while still in contact with Tz musicians; turntable is a very very rare tool in Tz).

Anyway all tracks on these cassette are from Tanga's original Musical Clubs who had their own taarab style.
Band members recording are rarely the original members. To credit theses cassettes to Black Star Musical Club is not an error nor a big sin.

A flac version of this great cassette can be found here, but only until June 1, 2017: CS KSS 117. The updated mp3 version can be found with the original post.

May 16, 2016


I have been plowing my way through the immense wealth of Guinean music, which is the result of Graeme Counsel's efforts to retrieve what remains of the recordings at the national radio in Conakry, Guinée. And, as some have pointed out, of course the navigation at the site of the British Library is challenging, to put it politely. But what a treasure trove it is!

Orchestre de la Garde Républicaine (later: Boiro Band)
There are updates and additions, confirming what we already knew, i.e. that the orchestras of the Sekou Touré era of Guinean music are rightly labelled as legendary. Take for example those live recordings of Balla et ses Balladins ("Keme Bourema", "Sara", - yet another - "Sara", "Soumbouyaya", "Diarabi", "Assa", "N'wato Barale" - a song which was previously only known in the version by Aboubacar Demba Camara and Bembeya Jazz -, "Autorail"), a brilliant new version of "Paulette" by the same orchestra, two fantastic versions of "Beni Barale" (here and here), of "Moi ça ma fout" (here and here) and of Rochereau's "Ruphine Missive" (serious competition to the original, if you ask me) by Aboubacar Demba Camara with Bembeya Jazz, out-of-this-world versions of "Air Guinée", "Kankan yarabi", "Bandian" and "Nadiaba" by Orchestre de la Paillote, paradigm shifters like "Commissariat" (a version of "Moi ça ma fout"), "Sabougnouma" and "Malisadio" by Orchestre de la Garde Républicaine, "Bafing bluese" (more tango than blues) and "Cherie kuma" by Bafing Jazz, and many, many atom bombs by Kebendo Jazz.
Particularly this last orchestra has, as I have written before, remained one of the hidden treasures of Guinean music for too long. I have asked Graeme to see if he could find out why this orchestra, winner of the national orchestral competitions in 1962, 1963, 1964 and again in 1970 and 1972 (i.e. in 5 of the 11 orchestral competitions held in Guinée), was never given the status of national orchestra, but unfortunately no one seems to be able to give an answer. The mystery is accentuated even more by simply unbelievable songs like "Soumba" (the longer version I referred to in this earlier post), "Keme Bourema" (or "Toubabalou kaba", as it is titled in the catalogue), "Bebe", "Kakilambe"...... I just love the voice of Mamady Traoré.

Besides confirming what we already knew, the collection offers an insight into the wealth of 'other orchestras', which were hardly or even not at all heard on the records of the Syliphone label. In the category "not at all" are Sasse Jazz, with this wonderful version of "Nankoura", Badiar Jazz, with "Air Guinée" to the tune of "El Manicero", and Fetore Jazz, with a slightly weird version of Kabasele's "Besame Mucho Jacqueline" titled "Esperanser".

Les Amazones (Formation Feminine Orchestre de la Gendarmerie Nationale)
And that brings me to a point which struck me in the catalogue: the great number of covers of songs of the African Jazz side of Congolese music. Particularly Rochereau seems to have made a great impact on Guinean orchestras; his composition "Porti Caliente" is covered by Nimba Jazz, "Mokolo Nakokufa" by Kebendo Jazz, "Tuson" and "Maria Chantal" by Normalien Jazz and "Madina" by Koloun Jazz. Docteur Nico is covered by the Dirou Band ("Motema" = "Angele Ozali Wapi"), by the Djoli Band ("Nico 'sopela'" = "Boya Kobina"), Koloun Jazz ("Nakokoma", which is the correct title) and Kélétigui et ses Tambourinis ("Sukissa" = "Sukisa"). African Jazz's version of Miguel Matamoros' "El Que Siembra Su Maiz" has even been covered three times: by Simandou Jazz, by Kebendo Jazz and by Tomine Jazz.
Franco's "Liwa Ya Wech" also gets covered a few times (by Camayenne Sofa and Orchestre de Kissidougou), but I guess this may have more to do with the fact that Miriam Makeba had a hit with it than with knowledge of the original. Kaloum Star bravely did attempt a version of "Azda".
Les Bantous were apparently also known in Guinée, going by the covers of "Comité Bantou" by Kebendo Jazz and "Makambo Mibale" by Kebaly Jazz. "Tambola Na Mokili", originally by Johnny Bokelo & Conga 68, was even covered by Bembeya Jazz (although this is a rather messy version, which has me doubting if it is by Bembeya), and the Forest Band had its own (great) version of Bokelo's "Mwambe". Finally, even Ryco Jazz has a version; "My Zainatou" was interpreted by Orchestre École Normale d'Instituteurs de Macenta.

If you have visited the collection at the website of the British Library you have probably noticed that a large part of the collection consists of recordings by artists who have never released records on the Syliphone label, - not because they were neglected, but because they were of a later date. The last albums on the Syliphone label were released in 1980, although a few recordings followed, through Diapy Diawara's Bolibana records.
Besides this 'post-Syli' category there is a remarkably large number of Fulani (or Peul) artists which have never been released on Syliphone. My guess is that the recordings in the BL collection represent less than 10 percent of all recordings of this category, and that most recordings were made and released on a local or regional (or even private) level.

I strongly suspect that the cassette I would like to share with you in this post is of the latter category. I have been combing through the BL collection trying to find these songs, but it appears they are not in there. And the artists too have remained undetected.
And that's a pity, because I have no idea who the artists are.
The makers of this cassette have perhaps optimistically assumed that the listeners would recognise the great singers featured on their cassette. And I am sure there are many that actually do, - but not me.
Fortunately the titles are mentioned, although not all. And I am not sure if I have correctly matched titles and songs. It doesn't take a great deal of study to determine that songs A1 to A4 are by the same artist; and it seems more than likely that the songs on side B are all by one, but a different, singer.

The singer in the first four songs seems so confident within his music that he must be a (nationally / regionally / locally?) well-known star. I have been searching for more music in this rare style with the BL collection, but haven't discovered it (so far).
The combination of vocal, organ and balafon in the songs on the B-side leave me with a unsettling feeling that there is something wrong with the speed. But if you listen to the elements on their own there appears to be little wrong with them. Nice....
In between these there is one song which is totally different, but seems to link the A and B side. My guess is that the singer is the same as the one on the other songs on the A-side. The accompaniment is very different from the other songs on the side. Guitar and kora have been exchanged for an obviously programmed rhythm-machine-slash-organ-slash-electronic-thingy. In this case the overall effect is quite pleasant, as it almost sounds like an accordion (and I like those..).

This brings me to one of the major negatives that has come to light in the BL collection: the great orchestras of the past have - since the demise of Syliphone - in many cases been replaced by drum machines, organs and other generally irritating electronic devices. Besides this there seems to be a relatively strong tendency towards individualisation. In Guinée this trend seem much stronger than in 'related' countries such as Mali. I realise that this is related to the disappearance of public funding. But I can't help but feel that this has been amplified as a reaction to the strong control by the collective in the Sekou Touré era.... Hopefully the great collection in the British Library can contribute to breaking this trend, and to a re-emergence of those legendary Guinean orchestras.

Sélection Musicale Guinéenne 91

PS: Please note that a link to an archive of past podcasts has been added to the list of "Also recommended" sites.

December 30, 2015

La femme se plaint

Is there an element linking this and the previous post? The answer is yes. What both artists have in common is a unique and original singing style. And that's not all: they both draw their inspiration from tradition. Although I add that the source of this tradition may not be so clearly defined - and certainly not in ethnomusicological (what?) terms - in the case of the singer who is the subject of this post.

I am sure you have already recognised him from the photo on the sleeve; the subject of this post is Josky Kiambukuta. I am sure I am not the first blogger to post this album, but there is a valid reason why I still would like to share it with you again. This is a special album. First, because it was conceived as an album, and not as a random collection of previously released songs. Secondly, because Josky was the first singer who was allowed to make his own album with the T.P. O.K. Jazz.

Josky was recruited into the O.K. Jazz (by Simaro Lutumba*) after Sam Mangwana to add a different style to the orchestra. As an ex-singer with Docteur Nico's African Fiesta Sukisa and a member of the Orchestre Continental (as was Wuta Mayi) he was firmly rooted in the African Jazz school of Congolese music. As he explained in an interview in 1991 he had been a great fan of Rochereau since his early youth. Obviously his first vocal contributions were in the style of idol (great example), but he soon started making his mark in the O.K. Jazz, and was actively encouraged to develop his own style. Like all musicians within the O.K. Jazz he was also asked to contribute as a composer, which he did with fervour ("Kebana", "Monzo", "Seli-Ja").
In the interview he pinpoints the song "Fariya" as the start of his own style. A style which he traced back to the legendary ensemble San Salvador, who dominated the recordings on the Ngoma label in the first half of the 1950s. He further developed and refined his style in songs like "Ba Pensées", "Amour Violé", "Mobali Amesana Na Ngai", "Toto", "Bisengambi", "Tokabola Sentiment", "Propriétaire" and - of course - "Bimansha" and "Nostalgie". All these songs were hits.

In the 1991 interview Josky indicated that traditional music was another source of inspiration for these songs. He named "Amour Violé" and "Limbisa Ngai" as based on a traditional rhythm from Shaba (now once more named Katanga**). This personal development culminated in the lp "Franco présente Josky Kiambukuta du T.P. O.K. Jazz", an album which he treated with considerable respect and care. This resulted in a true Classic of Congolese music.

And this is a rare feat for an O.K. Jazz album to which Franco himself has not contributed (i.e. he is not playing in these recordings...). What I personally really like in these four songs is the variation which Josky has managed to introduce both in the rhythms and in his singing. He is without a doubt the star in these songs, but none of the songs is the same, and within the songs it is like he is constantly 'feeling his way', almost exploring the right notes. Solidly backing him in all songs are Aimé Kiwakana, Lokombe Ntal and Madilu System. This harmonic backing only acts to emphasise Josky's vocal excellence in all four songs. Just listen to the ease with which he weaves through "Massini" and "Mehida"!

Josky stated in the interview that most of his songs are sung from a perspective of a woman. "La femme se plaint" (the woman complains) as he described it. Keep this in the back of your mind and listen to this album again. It will add another dimension to what is already a masterpiece.

Edipop POP 025 (1983)

* who knew him from the age of 15.
** Josky himself is from Bas-Congo.

December 29, 2015

In control

A few posts to round off this disappointing year...
In the first of these I would like to share with you a cassette by Hawa Dramé. Hopefully you have seen (and perhaps even watched) the videos I posted some time ago (here and here). More persistent fans of the classics of Malian music may have even listened to the two (1 & 2) cassettes I have shared*.
This cassette is different from those two cassettes in so far that I strongly suspect the recordings on this cassette were all made in a studio. Consequently the sound is more refined, even to the point where it can be called 'delicate'.

This cassette is linked to strong personal memories of my travels in Mali in the late 1980s. Particularly in the town and region of Ségou this cassette could be heard on almost every street corner, and even in the taxis-brousse. Listening to songs like "Tunkan Te Dambe Do" I can almost taste the red dust again...

The songs in this cassette are all deeply rooted in the bambara musical tradition. One may be tempted to call this music 'simple', - but this doesn't do justice to Hawa Dramé's brilliant performance.
Take the first song on the B-side for example, "Klawa". The song starts off with a ngoni, which is joined by a second ngoni. Hawa opens after 40 seconds, careful at first; but soon she is in total control. This is her song.
The same can be said for all the songs on this cassette.

This is one of these cassettes which can last you a lifetime. I still discover 'new' things in the songs, and find that my reaction to the music varies with age, mood, circumstances. I particularly like the dynamics in these recordings: Hawa Dramé does not go full-blast all the time, but demonstrates that she stay in control in the wonderfully delicate and subtle parts of her songs too.

SYL 8331

* and if you haven't I strongly advise you to do so...

October 15, 2015


'Tempus fugit', often translated as 'time flies', actually means 'time escapes'. This is how I experience the passing of time; it rushes on and I am running after it trying to catch up.
In this post I would like to share with you a video, which I recorded in 2011 and which I have been meaning to post on this blog ever since. But time has been escaping me, and we are now in 2015.

The recording was made in October 2011, in a bar called Le Tempo in central Bamako. And the name seems very fitting for the music which was performed by a group of clearly seasoned musicians. For walking into the bar was like walking into a time machine, and being transported to the early 1970s.
And perhaps even to a different place. For this music reminded me of legendary artists like Dexter Johnson, Laba Sosseh, Idy Diop, Papa and Mar Seck. Music with a strong Latin or Cuban flavour, hot and languid. Languid in a positive sense: with the ease that comes from an inherited understanding, and not from fanatic practice.

Unfortunately the sound is slighty distorted, but it should give you an idea of the almost unreal quality of this orchestra. The flute player would fit in easily with any top Cuban orchestra. Unfortunately I did not have time to go back and find out who he is, but this man is topnotch. The vocals in these two cleverly linked songs are superb. The harmonies in "Que Humanidad" (the first if the two) are in my opinion better than in Johnny Pacheco's original from the mid-1960s, particularly for the despondent tone. The second song, "Oriente", does not surpass the original, but this is not surprising as the original is by the immortal Cheo Marquetti* when he was singing with Chappottin y sus Estrellas, at a time when they were - rightly - at the top of their fame. But the Tempo band still manages to give the song its own feeling.

Out of character and emphasising that I am not going to be making a habit of this, I would like to add that if you like this 'genre' I can recommend the releases by Terangabeat, noteably those of Idrissa (Idy) Diop, Mar Seck and Dexter Johnson, despite the fact that I get the impression that in 'restoring' the original they may have in some cases overshot the mark.

Returning to the music of Mali: a lot has been written about the Latin influence into the music of the Malian orchestras. While I am inclined to believe that this influence is being overstated, it does not mean there was no influence. Apart from a few musicians who went to, visited or even studied in Cuba (such as Boncana Maiga, who can been seen nowadays presenting a rather unfortunate weekly magazine on modern African music on the French TV5), Mali also went through a Latin 'wave', - as did most countries in Africa, Europe and the Americas**. Often records from the GV-series on the HMV-label (from the 1950s) are cited as a major influence on West African music, but I have my doubts about this. This series contained mainly Cuban son music, and little of this music remains in the West African music of either the 1950s or 1960s. I suspect Mali went along with the worldwide craze in the 1960s.

I had heard from several musicians that there had been orchestras in the era of Modibo Keita which combined Latin with Malian, and even French music. But for decades this music seemed to have been lost in the mist of time (as is the case with far too much music in the African continent). But fortunately Florent Mazzoleni managed to dig up this cassette, which I would like to share with you here. The cassette contains no information apart from the title of the orchestra: Askia Jazz.

This orchestra was reputedly founded in 1960, in the wake of Mali's independence, by pupils of the Lycée Askia Modibo in Bamako. Several musicians claim to have started in this orchestra, but one member who has been confirmed by several sources is the legendary sax player Harouna Barry. I am not quite sure which instrument Harouna Barry played with Askia Jazz, but reports suggest it was not the saxophone, as he only took up playing this instruments years later. He only stayed with Askia Jazz for a few years before moving to Gao, where he worked as teacher. In the mid-1970s he joined Boncana Maiga in Les Maravillas. And ten years later, in the mid-1980s, he was the leader of the Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali before becoming the chef d'orchestre of National Badèma. He remained in this position until his retirement in 2001. Harouna Barry passed away in January 2008.

Other members included Mohamed Cheick Tabouré, who - according to this article - stated that the creation of Askia Jazz was made possible by using the money from the deposits which student had to pay when they joined the Lycée. This money was used to buy instruments in Abidjan. The example of the Lycée Askia Modibo was soon followed by other schools in Bamako.
Tabouré, by the way, is in the news in Mali with some regularity as a leading member and spokesperson of le Mouvement Populaire du 22 mars, which was created to support the plotters of the coup d'état of March 2012.

As per usual I am open to any suggestions with regard to the titles of the 16 songs of this cassette. I have added my suggestions, - but they are just that: suggestions.

Askia Jazz du Lycée Askia Modibo

Many thanks to Florent Mazzoleni for filling in this bit of musical history from Mali!

* but what is surprising is the fact that Marquetti, born in the Occidente of Cuba (Alquízar), should be so melancholic about the Oriente.
** even in the Netherlands we had a spell a Latin madness. I particularly remember this frisky chachacha from my youth.

June 13, 2015


Another song that has been haunting me for the last few weeks months. I have lost track of where and when and from whom I have copied this video, but it seems to me that it must have been a private recording. This has some negatives, notably the flaws in the sound (after 3'48), but in all the positives have the upperhand.
This song, "Kabambare" composed by singer Papy Tex and performed by him with Pépé Kallé and Empire Bakuba was released in 1985 on the album of the same title. But to be honest the album version can only be described as 'anemic' in comparison to the superb full-blooded version in this video. And this is mainly due to the technical imperfection of this recording, and in particular the balance between vocals and supporting instruments.

I add that in general I am not a fan of Empire Bakuba, let alone an expert on the group. But this video is official and irrefutable proof of the vocal talents of Papy Tex, Dilu Dilumona and Pépé Kallé, both as individual vocalists and as a harmonic trio.
It explains too why Franco was desperate to have a Pépé Kallé voice in his orchestra (see this post)...

EDIT September 12, 2015: I have mixed up the two songs of this video. The song you find above is "La Terre Sainte", and the one I have added below is "Kabambare". This song too demonstrates the vocal talent of the singers of Empire Bakuba, and adds to my point that these live versions are more interesting than the studio version.
"La Terre Sainte" (the holy land) is composed by a certain Dadou; and this is probably not the Dadou of the songs with this title.

June 12, 2015


I have been struggling to compile traditional songs from the DR Congo for a podcast. The struggling was certainly not a result of the lack of choice, but entirely the result of my obsession with this cassette.
I got stuck on this cassette, and just couldn't get any further.

The recordings on this cassette are generally labelled as 'traditional music', and I am sure there must be some form of passing on from one generation to the next involved. Unfortunately the label 'traditional' suggests, at least to a large section of western audiences, cultures on the brink of extinction, archaeological finds, ethnomusicologists travelling to remote regions to record octogenerians, staged performances of natives in costumes which even their grandparents would be too embarrassed to wear. These recordings are indeed made by an ethnomusicologist, and it seems more than likely that quite a bit of travelling had to be done to get to the location where the recording took place. But "staged performance": I don't think so. And the performers are perhaps nów in their eighties, but they weren't at the time of the recordings in the mid-1970s.

The recordings radiate the confidence and general optimism which is typical of a lot of - if not all - Congolese music of that era. This is particularly the case with the songs in these recording which are performed by women and girls. The casual boldness of the singing, the natural and unforced interaction between the individual women, who manage to combine chaos with harmony, is simply spellbinding.

Take the third song on side A. Every participant is free to add her own individual melodic line to the collective. The effect is both kaleidoscopic and harmonic. I would have loved to be there when the recording took place!

Magic can be found in all tracks of this cassette; there are simply no weaker songs. Besides the songs sung by women, either accompanying themselves or accompanied by an issanji or sanza ensemble, there are songs sung by men. These are, fortunately, in the same vein, with the same tendency towards controlled anarchy in the chorus. The last two songs are different from the others in that these are examples of the evolution towards modern instruments, - in this case a acoustic guitar and a bottle... The result is mesmerising and nimble, delicate and confusing.

I am sure you have recognised the musical style as the one that was modernised and commercialised by Tshala Muana. Personally I find that she took the evolution a step too far and has lost the magic of the original, which can still be heard on this cassette. I can only pray that some of the essence of this brilliant music has survived, somewhere in the immenseness of the border regions between Congo and Angola.

LLCT 7313

May 11, 2015


Apologies for the image quality of these three videos. But certainly not for the music. The videos have in common, besides the fact that they all feature great artists from Mali, that they are all too good not to share.
The drive, the passion and the unadulterated fun of the Ambassadeurs, the refined dancing combined with the brilliant vocals by Alou Fané and Flani Sangaré plus the unique talent of Zani Diabaté, the soul-piercing singing by Mah Damba backed by her late husband Mamaye Kouyaté: they are hard to surpass.

More soon...