the United Colours of Africa
Travel is a great education. I visited West Africa in 2000. It was my first trip out of South Africa. On my first day in Senegal, I walked into the city of Dakar and the tricksters saw me coming from a mile away. They spoke to me in English and say they want to take me down to the bar at the harbour to have a Senegalese beer . We do this. An old gentleman was selling birds. He had a cage full of ground sparrows. My newfound ‘friends’ tell me that I am supposed to buy a bird from him. This I do and the old man takes one bird out of the tiny cage and sets it free!
The young guys were now hustling me and i was none the wiser. Oh they say they brought me to this beautiful venue opposite the harbour because tomorrow there will be a big wedding with lots of people and they would like for me to experience a Senegalese wedding with dancing. First, however they had to get me appropriately attired. They put me on the taxi and through the streets of Dakar we go into a rabbit warren of traders and finally to a stool in a shop where I am fitted out in white robes head to tail. Then I return to the beautiful Hotel Lagon II where I am being put up and reflect whilst the waves gently crash beneath my window. The next morning I finally realised there was no wedding. For curiosity sake I went and checked. There was no wedding. Luckily my mum wired we money through the Western Union and I could continue my research in Dakar.
I was told the aids infection rate never grew higher than 7% in Senegal . The reason for this is they have a tradition of 'griot'. Griot is the 'music man' who is entrusted with spreading messages of information and education to the people of the community. Thus when word of an aids epidemic broke, there was no hesitation to commission a force of the most well known musicians to share an important message with the people. And so the musicians took to the streets with loud-halers singing songs describing the programme of aids and HIV infection. The people understood the programme and made an immediate choice to live without it. HIV and aids is a choice.
Musicians in Senegal are very proud of their origins and on Senegal Music Day which is the 21st of June all the major artists return home so that they can perform to their music loving public. Senegal has up to a 90% local music played on their radio stations and this is through choice.
Music is the essence of creativity. In the African tradition, musicianship and healing are often synonymous.
The griot is blessed with the community obligations of holding the microphone at welcoming gatherings or in passing information, oral history and singing the mbalax music to summons the spiritual world in the traditional ceremonies like of healing or maturing.
In the more modern society that Dakar embodies, the importance of being a griot has been usurped by the importance of being a musician. All the musicians maintain that essential function in society of passing messages, restoring pride and giving hope.
A train line lies between two of West Africa's greatest capitals, the filthy, fast, fickle and fantastical capital of Senegal, Dakar and the dusty, proud and stately capital of Mali, Bamako. It is a journey in excess of 1500 miles and 50 hours. Dogged by the continual possibility of serious delay and theft and infected by the strenuous and soaring temperatures of the desert region, the train ride is an adventure in random interaction with the whimsical elements of a harsh and unusual landscape of vast distances, unmoving baobabs and antique villages with dignified inhabitants.
As the train rocked, hovered, rattled, broke down, rose and made its way to Bamako, the supreme yet chaotic pulse of the city life of Dakar slowly began to fade into a landscape of sublime monotony. In Dakar, virtually incapacitated cripples and polio victims lined the street corners like vultures relying on scraps as their only survival. In the semi-desert emaciated baobab trees stood. In Dakar, traders had prowled selling fruit, socks and bootleg cassettes. In the semi-desert, sands settled. And the hooting and hustling of the panel beaten black and yellow taxis and marvelously conspicuous community busses that congested the city centre was replaced by the meditative chatter of the train. The desperation of Dakar had been forgotten for the deserts dull serenity. For many hours and more miles we travelled through the scorched anguish of the heat and the monotony and there was neither a sign of life nor a sign that life could exist. Nothing. Not until the rain came that is, in sudden, short and intense bursts.
For a moment the sky was dark and angry, for another there was a green belt that parted the desert. The light turned to a vivid orange brown, lightning struck in gold and purple and a fearsome wind thrashed the sand into a fury that rocked our pathetically human train. Outside a tiny village of mud huts waited out the rage of the storm. The old sat in the doorways, balanced in contemplative pose, pointed in their expressionless waiting. The children pressed at a 60 degree angle against the wind and rain with buckets protecting their heads, smiled, loving the temporary inconvenience, laughing in the face of this power and chaos.
And then the rain was gone, and the landscape normalised in an idle neglect of its anger, its power and its consequences. Our train regained its stability and the children of the village returned to the burdens of daily life with an oblivious understanding so dependent on nature's power, but so careless at the same time; almost free.
The train was from a distant era. It was an age that saw colonialism and communism fade into Mali's military government. The plastic seats were uncomfortable and beige, the toilet; no more than a hole in the floor, and the windows steel. The train was filled with bags and sacks overflowing with the colourful clothes and fruit of the weekend traders returning home.
I was bundled into a tiny cabin, filled with such traders. A lady sat opposite me with her hair placed awkwardly on her head, pasted together on her crown like a wedding cake. From behind her ears back to her crown was shaved and at the bottom of her neck perfect braids hung beyond her shoulders. She was dressed in beautifully coloured African robes that flowed so gently off her body, allowing it to relax and move with the comfort and freedom of the colourful material. She was a large lady and had a generous and caring disposition. Her husband sat next to her and by contrast was a little man, with striking features and an infectious laugh. Our communication ebbed between an innovative array of hand languages and a randomness of phonetic syllables. There were many other people; musicians, traders, religious men and travellers, passing the time with chatter, laughter, a little music and a lot of prayer.
I had brought a loaf of bread and two litres of water for the journey, and I offered it to my companions, who generously ate from my modest offerings. Everyone had a little food with them; dried fish and rice, bananas, stale banana cookies; and we ate together, smiling. Lunch faded into afternoon and then nightfall and an uncomfortable night's sleep. I awoke at sunrise in the upright pose I had been before. I looked out the window and the landscape had not changed at all, other than that vivid orange ball of light staring me in the face. A line of passengers stood by the window and smoked, passing the time .
Up ahead the train tracks were broken and the train came to a stop somewhere near the border between Senegal and Mali. Time passed slowly and constantly so I walked across to a nearby village. A few aged men dressed in the traditional flowing robes, dirtied from the dust and faded from the years of wear, sat smoking, staring away the midday heat. Another man whistled quietly to himself, engaging occasionally in amiable interactions and then retreating into his world where only the melodic sound of his whistle was important. It was a lonely sound, but it filled this distant and quiet village with music, reflecting the depth of tradition and vivid expression of the region. The same striking and honest expression I had heard at the night-clubs of Dakar, on the street-corners, in the taxis and every home.
On a train ride as long as this, everything fades and disappears: the music into memory; my loaf of bread into crumbs; the scenery once more into morning; and the severity of the journey into excitement. I could sense the relief. I could hear the vibrant bustle of people, fruit and colour outside. Our destination was upon us. Mali, and a sand coloured kingly palace of rough and intricate Sudanese design rose out of the desert sands, like a baobab that had been growing there for thousands of years.
Senegal's African Hip Hop movement
There goes an old Wolof saying, roughly translated as follows. 'You can not sit on someone else's under because you will find it is already taken. You must sit on your own under.' (An under is an urn for herb and insense burning)
On tour with Baaba Maal
Meeting Ismael Lo:
Meeting Cheikh Lo:
Cheikh Lo said: "Me, I want to play every music. I want to travel, I want to discover every type of music... All this rhythm is Africa. It is the change of the name. I can feel the rhythm. I feel the rhythm. I know the rhythm is Africa. Today the rhythm is universal. If you do that, you build one music, you create one music, because you can take here, take here, take here."
Meeting Youssou N'Dour:
Meeting Coumba Gowlo
Coumba said: “A change of ideas and styles is a way to be together, everybody worldwide should know the music is universal.
Sengal et Mali : Mbalax et Mandingo
Casette collection le grand (archived at ILAM)
Travelling to Senegal and Mali in June 2000 was one long music festival, together with wonderful meetings and learnings. This casette collection is currently being archived for deposit at ILAM.
Vieux Marius Seck's album is Ndioukeul, ‘Hommage a son feu grand pere.' It is typically Senegalese with the sounds of various programmed instruments. Yet, Seck is a dynamic guitarist, vocalist and choralist and his singing is punctuated by the lively texture of the talking drum. It is honest and expansive and Seck's singing is in the typical Senegalese tradition of the griot, both soaring and soothing, backed by the sonorous chants of his choristers. On the final track on side a, ‘Antalo', Seck gets into a folk music mood but an international folk sound that is sweet and sensitive, melodic and lyrical. Here we have a fun and freewheeling international sound given humour by the dramatic punctuation of the talking drum. Ndioukeul is a very soft sound, like Ismael Lo, portraying the sweetly spoken, sincere, honest and lovingly musical language of this extraordinary cultural land. The music is visual and transformative as Seck exchanges between deep lines and uplifting choruses. He sings and plays guitar exposing his skill as a composer. The rock influence of an electric guitar and horns in ‘Seey' is evident.
“Djeliya,” by Babani Kone
Babani Kone opens with the title track singing in unison with her female choristers, including the famous Mamani Keita. Babani Kone however takes to her own on this song as her vocal range is illustrated through soaring lines as the rhythm section back her up. This Malian songstress is pure fire. Her style is enigmatic and her voice expressive. The band is steady. On ‘Badoua Den,' the deeply busy and textured sound of the kora makes a tremendous meeting with the simplistic and solid sound of the bass guitar before Babani Kone's vocals rise and rise again. A monstrous track! Kora is styling in a multiplicity picking whilst bass dips into a one note wonder giving all space for vocals to sing out there all alone like a soaring bird. Guitar enters like a master falling in and out of the spaces in harmonic phrases. Wistful splendor... ‘Kounandi', is bright and brisk with drums and bass setting the pace. Kora adds a distinct voice phrasing in a jazz kind of way. Babani's voice is harmonic in its splendor, phrasing in well spoken intervals. Bass and guitar agree. Kora marches out in front and then falls behind the soaring climaxing voices of Babani on the song ‘Kebali.' The musicians perform in an interwoven tapestry of sound and rhythm. ‘Wale Niouma,' presents a bigger sound with the rhythm section in a slightly funky arrangement and the lead vocals jamming in colourful phrases. ‘Nia o Nia,' closes this album with a delightful array of voicing; the kora busy as always, the bass steady and understated and the voice, leading masterfully.
“Dikalo” by Priscilla Ngando
On ‘Pour Mieux T'aimez' we hear lovely trumpet lines programmed on the keyboard and a Carrribbean or island style to this lovely music. ‘Bomane Mba' is a lovely light and breezy standard that takes us back to the lyrical Africanisms Bellafonte and Makeba enjoyed so illustriously. Simplicity is sincerity. Music is for everyone. Priscilla Ngando's singing captures all the moods, styles, weathers and environments of our thrilling African continent. It is truly Pan African music at times taking on a touch of a classical influence as the keyboard rises up the major scale in synthetic sounds. But, accessibility is the key here for Priscilla. On ‘Divine,' piano and rap combine to give a touch of future as the vocalists sing in English again furthering their reach and touch. Priscilla closes out with a lovely gospel sound of lullaby's for our beloved Mother Earth and Mother Land, Afrique!
Sali Sidibe presents an untitled album on which we enjoy a busy, colourful and adventurous sound. On ‘Gnouman Ke La,' an extraordinary instrumentation provides the visual of an endless landscape marked by a tremendous cultural pride. Sali Sidibe sings in the authentic mbalax style bringing the most out of her backing singers whilst the sounds of flutes and strings create the impression of an endless history lived over an endless landscape. Through the music we feel the dance. Tempo is up front. It is light and enjoyable. On ‘Blon' flute follows lead vocals in a way that shows how jazz phrasing can be used in this dynamic traditional music. On ‘Baman' we feel the presence of the great ocean that brought so many cultures together in the way melody and bass bounce ideas off each other allowing the musical message to bleed into a sound that brings rise to the voices at first Sali and then the choristers. Tight and right, a nice jazz influence.
On ‘Ne Ma Nin Me,' we hear the kora at first and then the rustic sound of the strings, violin perhaps or traditional violin. This is a fantastic allure as Sali's singing warbles at times like a splendid goddess whilst the backing vocals are steady and united like guitar and bass who provide the rhythm. We hear the xylophone landing stunningly in and amongst the rustic melodies of the violin like instrument. Sali and the choristers are absolutely phenomenal. Rigorously rehearsed Djembe leads out the track ‘Diaby' as rustic tempered violin, bass and flute create the rhythmical foundation for Sali to float her musical language over the top. Choristers are united in agreement. This is some kind of musical phenomenon!
“Djourou” by Dianeba Seck
“Prosper” by Wa Flash. Ma Sane leads a popular vocal sound with her wide -range. On track 2 ‘Baay Ndongo' guitar creates the gentle folk sound of Senegal whilst male voices settle upon it in a sweeping heartfelt harmony. Here we have an acoustic folk sound of Senegal that Ma Sane sings over in an emotional arrangement. On ‘Incident' the male singers lead over the multiple percussive effects.
“Kalifa” by Batoma Sissoko is a lovely Malian Madingo sound with a quickly delivered vocal line sitting over the repetitive rhythmical bassline brought to life by the occasional racing guitar instrumental phrase. Backing vocals enforce the melody. Sisosko's high pitched vocals make for a delightful exchange with female choristers and the relentless guitar ostinato. On ‘Woulabara Djangna', the wonderful sound of the xylophone adds a musical flavor of spontaneity to the Mandingo sound resplendent with the earnest vocals of Sissoko.
Rokia Traore – the personification of peace. Voice sits alongside guitar and bass in perfect relaxation and harmony as if almost connected by a string to the voice of the heavens itself. Mouneissa is a thrilling breakthrough and a universal breakthrough.
“Kar Kar” by Boubacar Traore
“Nakan” by Mamadou Sidibe
“Saramaya” by Habib Koite
“Waxonalako” by Tidiane & Le Dief-dieul
Waxonalako : Tidiane and Le Dieuf - Dieul : The young men of Senagelese music bring tradition and urban together in an eternal relevance. Tidiane, the lead singers voice and style is enigmatically Senagelese in all the culture, colour, maturity and expression. Playful, fresh, thoughtful - music loving.
“Revolution 2000” by Positive Black Soul
“Woyei” by Oumou Soumare
“Sarama” by Amy Koite
Kalo 9 is a beautiful song for everyone: The sound strikes a soothing and relaxing tone. At once the mind is still and the music takes over. Amy is a sooth sayer upfront with her deep and wistful tones she leads the listener across the landscape of human existence all the way to their point of release, where we become present in the music and the message. The songstress is pure, personal and powerful. The musicians are present holding onto a backing sound that has the rustic sounds of Senegal but delivered in a universal smooth jazz way. ‘Kandy' takes a different root as kora plays out the cyclical ostinatos for bass and vocals (in call and response) to play in and amongst. Amy Koite has all the range and marking of a great Malian voice as she preaches, soars and sooths in and amongst the adventurous and high tempo kora. Through the kora and bass we come to the polyrhythmic foundation of the dance upon which the lead vocalist may be free to express herself in purity and truth. The backing vocals are choral in their reflective responses to Amy's poetic musical monologues. ‘Fali' is a gentle lullaby led by dexterous kora and solid bass. Amy's enigmatic voice calls as if calling over the great expanse of the Sahara. There is a one-ness with her style and the region. It is contemplative, respectful and deeply reflective of the vast spaces that occupy her land. Yet, through her lead one takes great heart, one feels the great purpose for the depth of tradition and human experience. A Senegalese griot. On ‘Sirata' we hear the n'gomi (bow). Xylophone (balafon) plays alongside the bass and kora in a delightful tapestry of sound. The arrangement and orchestration stand out as supreme as harmonic overtones float off the music as if fluff rising into the atmosphere. And Amy Koite's sound style, energy and purpose is outstanding. Xylophone follows her melodies down the scale as if a virtuoso pianist. Amy has created a unique style of singing. It is deeply musical and sets her voice apart from her choristers whose togetherness appeat to her with power. Her voice together with the instruments protect the rhythmical fabric of the song whilst creating space for virtuoso melody runs. Face A is a journey in itself. Cheerful, forgiving, passionate and resolute beyond belief. Amy Koite is the leader of a group of very keen musicians who hold a sense of humanity that provides the keys to unlock the love in the souls of all mankind.
“Joko” by Youssou N'Dour
On this album we hear how Youssou has swopped his gorgeous roots for washed out American music. With Wyclef Jean he provides a collaboration where the visual vibrance of Senegals call and response style is converted into a moan and the visual kora ostinata is a simple guitar plug. Youssou's vocals are strained and straining in a slightly depressed song. On ‘don't look back,' he sings in English so as to reach a wider audience. Where ‘don't look back,' is a good message it is delivered in such a retro pace that it is nothing new. It is stunningly produced planting the listener in the so-called ‘soul' music genre. We are looking back. The song fades out. ‘Don't walk away,' is another instruction and probably a bad one. Walk away! It features ‘Sting,' a man whose music captured the sense of soul yearning. This tailors Youssou's lyrical and smooth singing style into a Western popular music. Well produced but musically it does not create a splash in the ocean of West African culture. It is more like a drop, which was evaporated, crossed an ocean, combined with polluted emissions in the atmosphere and then rained itself down in America. On ‘Yama' the sound engineere makes the greatest attempt to hear Senegal as he records the sounds of the fishing boats. Youssou sings as if a prayer at dawn. The ostinato is quick and repetitive in the higher range, creating a counter experience with the rushing djembe percussion. Youssou's voice rises as if with the sun to the hustle and bustle of the middle of the day. But, it is short lived. Bass is strong, holding the patterns together. Youssou returns to the mood of dawn and prayer rises again. We reach the Zenith for the second time. And then it is even paced as we fall into a ride, the choristers perform as a soundscape, not as an instrument. The song is lost in metaphor, well produced though! On the opening of Face A, Youssou presents an upbeat, calypso styled song with his sister Viviane. This was the launch of his sister's career on his label. The rhythmical percussion patterns are messy sounding like the trot of horse at times. The lyrics are mindless. The choristers sing ‘la la.' Vivian sings ‘I am going to wait for you.' Talking drums smother the singers. Here we hear the criticism against Youssou; that he releases different music to his local audiences. He dropped that song in on his local audience. ‘My hope is in you,' takes us back to the Western infused vernacular of this album. You hear from the hip hop influence of the producer, over programming and a somewhat depressed delivery of lyrics that have potential if worded differently. Fake horns give us an interesting bridge. The song fades out with the synthetic horns its only perk. ‘She doesn't need to fall,' is another instruction. It is the top song on this album with Youssou showing his musical touch with the lovely lyrical pace and Wolof lyrics. His English singing is noticeable forced alongside the more natural musical language of Wolof. The producers shine with heavy melodic soundscapes. The keyboard lines are heroic encouraging Youssou to stick to his Wolof. Face A closes with ‘red clay,' heartfelt, sad, soft and R & B.
“Gis Naa Xalexi” by Mbaye Ndiaye
He opens with the title track, it is percussion and song. Upbeat and repetitive chants in a modern idiom present dance as the focus. There is an attitude of a Central African influence. When lead vocals breaks from backing vocals and fits in and amongst it, a delightful rhythmical exchange is created by the bow n'gomi. They play too, the xalem, an ancestor of the banjo. The percussion is played by Pape Ndiaye. The music is made more memorable by the weird sounds of the talking drums played in orchestra. Powerful, almost trance like. On ‘Njumba', percussion leads with the sound of traditional flutes. Mbiaye's lead vocals are high and fast pitched marrying perfectly with the adventurous percussion and strong arrangement with backing vocals and other instruments. It is a wonderful and wild musical cacophony. One can almost sense the energy of the leader Mbiaye as he takes on a musical sensibility that is striking and repetitive reaching into the spiritual octaves of transformative music. On ‘Yaaq faaxe' percussions and vocal continue their sumptuous interplay. Talking drums provide their lyrical message as bass sits in the front, almost as if tempered by the relentless interplay of vocalists and percussion. Tongues are wagging, fingers are thumping, legs are dancing, this is busy, healing, light and uplifting music. On Face B ‘Xaay baax' begins with a lovely vocal interplay, a chant of modern and ancient and musical sincerity. Talking drums seek out space in its midst, as it supports the continual lyrical lines to stir the emotions of the song from right out front. This is well orchestrated acapella music at times. A simple hand clap leads the song into its second chapter whereby the talking drums are allowed to run free as the voices hold the path they had so actively entrained in the opening acapella chapter. On ‘Win we Mbodni,' percussion lead. Voices are active. Mbiaye sings in his way as if delivered from the fire in the belly via the heart, throat and tongue. The album closes with ‘Onow Neejikweel', a group song, uplifting whimsical and rooted in ancient tradition. The music takes its course as purposefully as a river. Drums and voices, heartbeat and consciousness, rhythm and melody are always friends, expressing beautiful unity.
The music is at once deep, real and sensitive. ‘Kolondiougou' expresses a traditional African guitar music as deftly and delicately as any. Childlike vocals back up the melodic tones of the guitar and lovely lines. On ‘N'ganaa Cino' bass plays a prominent role to provide a repetitive rhythmical line for voices to sing over. Fomba presents strong and mature patterns of song backed up by beautiful playing of Koko Dembele. An unpretentious sharing music. ‘Didadi' presents a lovely interplay between guitar and voice. There is a gentle, floating and flowing feminine rhythmic feel, sweetly commentated upon by the open and relaxed vocal style of Nomakora, light and breezy with a scat style. Face A closes with ‘Tile' where guitar illustrates its Western influence and allows the lead vocals to show off his ‘country and western,' singing style. Big bluesy sounds and sultry spoken melodic ostinatos combine with Namakora's voice to create R&B guitar music with a rawness and sincerity garnered from a simple production value. Face B does not play.
“Beeta Felaa” by Ndeye Marie Ndiaye Gawlo
‘Beeta Feela' begins with the title track and at once establishes its lead singer as a powerful, strong and present voice. Ndiaye Gowlo is backed by a big band and group of choristers as together they create the melodic musical tapestry of Senegalese griot music or mbalax. Papa Ndiaye is leading percussion. The delivery is sound and steady. On ‘Lyeeya Woof' vocals and choristers perform together in a strong interplay whilst guitar takes a Western influenced solo. This is popular mbalax music. Ndiaye Ndeye's vocals are strong as she sings within a smaller vocal range, calling on the various ornamentations evident in Sengalese vocal mbalax. On ‘Ayilo' guitar and programming lead into a calypso inspired mbalax. Vocal and backing settle into a laid back approach and percussion is steady. The album is lacking in improvisational quality. Face B gets off to an upfront start with percussion leading out in a quick paced rhythmical stride. Lead vocals are strained and making way for another Western style guitar solo. It is generic popular mbalax from Jololi studios. The interplay between vocals and choristers is exciting, as is the interplay between percussion and talking drums. Such is the region and the manner in which they dance to mbalax. On ‘Yal Nafi Yal', Ndiaye Marie Ndiaye leads into another rhythmical and enjoyable mbalax resplendent with all the changes, breaks and Western inspired rock guitar solo and then back into the rolling orchestra of percussion. A solid mbalax album.
“Integration Africaine” by Pape Djiby Ba
Papa Djiby Ba presents an upbeat and modern style in this collaborative album with an international appeal and sensitivity. He combines mbalax with other influences of the great Atlantic Ocean of Senegals' border. ‘Dekendo' is sweet and sultry. ‘Cheikh Khadia' is a sweet and reflective song. The Sabar (traditional mbalax drum) is used alongside the ‘Talma Tamb' or talking drum. The music gently transports one to the essence of the song and the rhythmical interplays. Neither complex, nor generic, this is a thoughtful mbalax album. On the title track ‘Integration Africa' talking drums are upfront providing a rhythmical focal point for guitar to ride around in sweet phrases. Pape Djiby Ba leads in a generous style, ever present, letting the music speak for itself. ‘Winyvieu' has a punctuated beginning before falling into the typical riding mbalax made to stand out by its rustic style of recording. Live in studio this allows the instruments to settle in and amongst each other and produce a holistic and well crafted sound, crafted from the live performances and rehearsals. A strong and exciting mbalax, made explosive by the talking drum and given space by the inventive guitar lines as it talks to the bass over the bridge. Pape Djiby Ba follows up the vocal parts, his choristers are polite and understated.
“Navetanes” by Omar Pene
Omar Pene presents a dynamic jazz mbalax cross over with his band super Diamano. His choristers are well rehearsed providing the response to his robust musical calls. Talking drum is upfront and the band is steady and easy in the background creating the platform for a musical dynamo to express the full colours of his imagination through arrangement. An array of wonderful live instruments including trumpets, saxophones and flutes create a masterfully orchestrated tapestry of sound that is bright, light, uplifting and delightful to the soul. An extensive line-up of artists is provided in this shining album. ‘Soul' presents an easier tempo with keys played amongst blasting horn lines giving it an international appeal. Omar Pene is in and amongst these phrases with his delectable and lyrical style. The overall sound is live, living, fresh and eternal, as the band plays through the changes as one. Even the growling rock guitsr inspired solo finds freedom and space amongst the dynamic orchestra of different musicians. The band falls into the downbeat of reggae and then back into the driving sounds of African music. Lively virtuoso qualities of vocal harmony present themselves before the song ends with a crash. Punchy brass presents the song ‘Wayo Waye', and the platform for the vocalists to fall into a deeply progressive and purposeful rendition. Horns keep the song both rooted and universal as their bright sounds present a colourful fore-runner for the vocals, lead and choristers, to follow. The band change key as one and then quickly back into the driving theme of this song which expresses the Atlantic culture of Snegall, the port region and the coming and going of many people. This is a deeply urban and authentic music. The rock guitar solo is here too, grinding away in blissful harmony as the power of percussion and talking drum keep it very real indeed. Omar Pene is riding a tidal wave of sound with his honest and expressive vocalizations. Face B begins with ‘Jeanne D'arc' which is a story teller mbalax. Horns are there to back the statements and talking drum to accentuate the point. It is surely a tribute to the power of the human spirit. The choristers response is resounding to the vocal lectures delivered by Pene. An uplifting musical journey. Talking drums follow in a joyous jive landed on the beats of a march. And the brass closes it out powerfully. The final song ‘Yaye Sukhna' is upbeat and delightful with horns providing the melodic refrain before dancing off the keys in a jazzy way. Omar Pene is ever ready leading the song in its direction leaving space for the horns to fall down the scale in thirds and then back him up in united riffs.
“Jiguen” by Ismael Lo
The title track is at once wistful and sultry, before falling into the soothing and purposeful rhythmical contribution of mbalax music. The horn-line is exciting and the instrumental line-up on this album, quite vast. Ismael Lo is paired up in sound to meet the musical demands of his adoring public at home. An urban influence is felt strongly on this album as Ismael looks over the waters of his seaside home and across the boats and fishermen, beyond the Cape Verde Islands and to Cuba where an exchange of humanity occurs. On ‘Gor Siyam' we hear his sweet and gentle sound brought to life by the falling harmony of the harp. Ismael sings in the softly spoken story-teller style. It is world music. A music of the world, gut wrenching and soul expressive in the way it embodies the truth of its own nature. When he soars in voice, he soars with love and thereby with strength and power.
“Dagadjo Konee” by Batoma Diallo
Here we hear the full range of Malian music, an ancient tradition made manifest in the modern arena with a delicate musical presentation of many instruments in harmony. Balafon, N'goni (bow) and violin add to the musical sound. Vocals sit in the background as if riding on the wistful waves of the overtones. Bass is very heavy providing the proverbial carpet for guitar to work its magic over with an illustration of origins of Malian blues music. Blues came out of their traditional music. ‘Be kon in di donke' is such a generous and thankful song, the violin cuts a rustic, sincere and natural path in and amongst the lead singer together with her choristers. ‘Saddiouroule' starts with the bass allowing all other instruments to come in. Balafon (Xylophone) ostinato's add a further complexity to the music. Batoma sings in unison with her choristers, and then alone. She has the voice of a young star, staying within her range and delivering the music as it was taught to her, unaffected by perspective or occasion. Dance, healing and love appear to be communal disciplines. This is an effective musical vibration made enjoyable by letting go to the constant intertwining of musical ostinato's. ‘Faso den kala' is a gentle song built around a whimsical riff that could travel into any musical genre so must have its origin in the most ancient people. The riff rises and falls through only a few notes and the singers lines marry it in a lovely proportionate harmony. Batoma's singing is delightful as she tells her sweet tale through music. ‘Bagnogonnou' is a lovely cyclical song as natural to the body as a sufi enjoying a spin. Built upon a lovely bass ostinato, Batoma sings out upbeat and passionate lines met with the response of her choristers. Violin is outstanding for its agreement with the melody. Face B commences with ‘DagadjoKone' which dances forth at a terrific pace bringing the visual splendor of the Malian dance into a musical perspective. ‘Kalambaw' begins with dexterous string ostinato from the kora allowing the other instruments to lace themselves around once more creating a marvelous tapestry of music that pulses with a strong beat and leads with flowing melodies sung by the choristers. The final song ‘Adama' puts a smile on ones face immediately the way in which the instruments tickle the soul with their loveliness and Batoma's singing with the choristers are the perfect accompaniment to the band, allowing the band to grow in complexity and Batoma takes the solo, which is deeply sincere and communicative.
“La Consolatrice” by Saly Sidibe
“Ah! Les Hommes” by Betika
“Kolondki” by Adama Drame
“Woyou Talibe” by Tama
“Ken Bugul Dee Remix” by Selle Diop
“Les Go” by Dan Gna
“Atankele” by Kouadic Maurison
“Manore” by Baladji Gui Mousa
Best of Gnaore Djimi
“Sing Hosanna” by Peter Gabriels Muonagor
“Wusam Amointing” by Peter Gabriels Muonagor
Audiorama's Best Of
“Nafigiya” by Zotto Boys
“Founy Faya” by Kouman
“Sargal” by Ajah Sy from 7fm
“Mirandari” by Micka Gomis from 7fm
“Touma Sera” by Amadou Sodia from 7fm
“Door mou danou” by Sama Flavor
“Moi c'est toi” by Gideon
“Oridjidji” by RAS
“Le Vote” by Ouza
“La Voix du ciel” by Kajeem
“Come back” by Brighess & le Ziboua Stars
“Ramde” by Beta Simon
thank you SAA Communications for flight sponsorship and Hotel Lagon 11 for Hotel accommodation in 2000AD
quote the source © 2017 African music, writing, philosophy and multi-media creations