Kora Master, Foday Musa Suso, Performs Live! – Podcast 115

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I feel like this recording is as good anything I’ve produced for radio.

This podcast is a live performance from Kora legend Foday Musa Suso.   Suso is most known in the West from his collaborations with Phillip Glass, Herbie Hancock, Paul Simon, Pharaoh Sanders, Jack DeJohnette and countless others.

 Foday Musa Suso is an internationally recognized musician and a Mandingo griot from the West African nation of Gambia. Griots are the oral historians and musicians of the Mandingo people, who live in several West African nations. Griots are a living library for the community, providing history, entertainment, and wisdom while playing and singing their songs. The history of empires and kingdoms, tribal conflicts, cultural heroes, and family lineage are all part of a griot’s traditional repertoire. It is an extensive verbal and musical heritage that can only be passed down within a griot family.

Foday is a direct descendent of Jali Madi Wlen Suso, the griot who invented the kora over four centuries ago. Foday spent his childhood in a traditional Gambian village, in a household filled with kora music. He began to play his father’s kora even before he could hold the instrument on his own. Though his father was a master kora player, in griot tradition a father does not teach his own children the instrument. So from age 9-18, Foday studied music and history under master kora player Sekou Suso in the village of Pasamasi, Wuli District.–

After many years of rigorous study, in 1974 Foday spent 3 years teaching the kora at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Legon, Ghana. In 1977, he moved to Chicago and became the first kora player to establish himself in the United States. He formed The Mandingo Griot Society with 3 American musicians, playing a fusion of traditional and jazz that is now known as “world music”. Since 1977, he has performed as a soloist and with other musicians throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America. Interested in both traditional and cutting-edge music, he has also written many original compositions, toured and recorded with many prominent musicians. In addition to his virtuosic kora playing and singing, Foday Musa Suso is very skilled in playing traditional West African drums, as well as many other instruments.

Noura Mint Seymali live with Jay Gandhi, Jeiche Ould Chighaly and Ehren Hanson – Podcast 108

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Podcast DownloadNoura Mint Seymali and Jeiche Ould ChighalyFresh from the inspiration of Ragas Live Festival, we tried our hand at a novel combination of styles an instruments.  Mauritania’s greatest singer, Noura Mint Seymali and her husband/guitarist, Jeiche Ould Chighaly performed live in studio with two Brooklyn-based Hindustani musicians Jay Gandhi (bansuri flute) and Ehren Hanson (Tabla).  They met at the ASAMAAN Festival of Music & Astronomy in the Gorée Island – Dakar, Sénégal on April 2013 but had never performed together until this day.

We also got a chance to share a track from Noura’s burning new album Tzenni.

Noura Mint Seymali is a nationally beloved star and one of Mauritania’s foremost musical emissaries.  Born into a prominent line of Moorish griot, Noura began her career at age 13 as a supporting vocalist with her step-mother, the legendary Dimi Mint Abba.  Trained in instrumental technique by her grandmother, Mounina, Noura mastered the ardine, a 9-string harp reserved only for women.  Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall, Noura’s father and namesake, sparked her compositional instincts, himself a seminal scholar figure in Mauritanian music; studying Arab classical music in Iraq, devising the first system for Moorish melodic notation, adapting the national anthem, and composing many works popularized by his wife, Dimi.  Reared in this transitive culture where sounds from across the Sahara, the Magreb, and West Africa coalesce, Noura Mint Seymali currently drives the legacy forward as one of Mauritania’s most adventurous young artists.

Fueled by the exploratory sound of her husband Jeiche Ould Chighaly’s emotive psych guitar lines, Noura and Jeiche formed their first “fusion” band in 2004.  Jeiche, a master of the tidinit (aka. ngoni, xalam), brings the force of yet another important line of Moorish griot to bear, translating the tidinit’s intricate phrasing to a modified electric guitar with heroic effect.  His unique sound, mirroring vocal lines and then refracting their melodies into the either, was born out of years presiding over wedding ceremonies, directing the dance often as the sole melodic instrument.  In addition to his work with Noura, Jeiche remains one of Nouakchott’s most sought after guitarists for traditional ceremonies.

After two albums – Tarabe (2006) & El Howl (2010) – released locally in Mauritania and years of experimentation adapting Moorish music to various pop formations, Noura Mint Seymali’s current band is a concise return to the roots, a light formation led by the “azawan,” a word in Hassaniya that refers to the collective ensemble of traditional instruments; the ardine, tidinit, guitar.  Backed by a declarative, funk-speaking rhythm section, composed of Ousmane Touré (bass) and Matthew Tinari (drums), the band has made a formidable debut on the international stage, releasing two EPs – Azawan (2012) & Azawan II (2013) – and touring widely.  The band’s first full-length album for the international market – TZENNI –  is set for release via Gliiterbeat Records on June 20, 2014 and to be followed by an extensive North American tour.

Though performances at events like globalFEST (USA), Festival-au-Desert (Mali), Hayy Festival (Egypt), Jeux de Francophonie (France) and Festival Timitar (Morocco) and collaborations with artists like Tinariwen, Bassekou Kouyaté, and Baaba Maal, the band is actively exposing Mauritanian roots music to the world.  In a rare merger of cultural authority and experimental prowess, Noura Mint Seymali applies the ancient musical traditions of the griot with a savvy aesthetic engagement in our contemporary moment, emerging as a powerful voice at nexus of a changing Africa.

 

 

Happy Holidays! A free track from Abdoulaye Diabate/David Ellenbogen

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Abdoulaye Diabate

Abdoulaye Diabate from Mali has been called the greatest griot singer living in the United States.

We recorded this duo track in my studio this year and I thought that rather than selling it, I’d like to share it as a holiday gift to show appreciation to current and future friends who have been enjoying this podcast, Acoustic Mandala Project, or life in general.   On this track, Abdoulaye plays rhythm guitar, bass, djembe and sings, I play some rhythm guitar and all the lead guitars.   This is part of a bigger project called Abdoulaye Diabate’s African Ladyland.

I hope you enjoy it and that you have a a wonderful New Year.

Here’s a bio of Abdoulaye from Wikipedia:

Abdoulaye Diabaté was raised in the Mande tradition to a djali family (traditional musicians and story tellers). His brother Kasse Mady has achieved worldwide fame and his sister Mama Diabate is a great star in Guinea. At age 18, having developed into a formidable singer and guitarist he left his village.[1] He joined Tenetemba Jazz in Bemako, the capital of Mali.[1] In 1975, he moved to Abidjan in Ivory Coast where he formed his own band called Super Mande. Super Mande became one of the foremost ensembles in the capital performing all over the country. At times, some now most famous West African stars such as Salif Keita, Mory Kante and Ousmane Kouyate joined the group for performances. The career of Super Mande culminated with the release of their album “Wahabiadashi” which was eventually banned from airplay because the title track criticized hypocritical Marabouts (religious leaders). In the early nineties, Diabate was recruited as a star singer in the world renowned “Ballet Koteba” led by Souleymane Koli to replace Sekou Camara “Cobra” after his death; and also as rhythm-guitarist with the “Go de Koteba” the world famous women group. He toured the world with these ensemble for several years. In 1996, he relocated in New York City. He has since taken part in many cultural events as leader of the re-formed Super Mande group and with many collaborations with artists such as jazzman Don Byron, Peter Apfelbaum, Sean Noonan, and the groups Source and Fula Flute Ensemble.[3]

Famoro Diouabate – Podcast 13

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Famoro Dioubate is a master of the balafon from Guniea, West Africa.  He performs live on the radio with Yacouba Cissoko on kora, Raul Rothblatt on cello and Sean Dixon on drums.  We also hear him with his full ensemble Kakande.  Famoro is djele, or griot, and his family have been an unbroken chain of musician/historians for almost 800 years.

The Source feat. Abdoulaye Diabate, Live Performance and interview with Sylvain Leroux

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Abdoulaye Diabate

Live Performance from the Source featuring Abdoulaye Diabate, plus a demonstration of the fula flute and interview with the founder of the Source, Sylvain Leroux.

This episode features a demonstration of one of the signature techniques of the Fula Flute by Sylvain Leroux and a live performance recorded at the Zinc Bar by Erik Gunderson and originally aired on WKCR when Sylvain was my guest.

The lineup on the recording is

Sylvain Leroux -Fula Flute, Western flutes and Saxophone

Abdoulaye Diabate – Guitar and vocals

Bailo Bah – Fula Flute

Abdoulaye Alhassane – guitar

Mamadou Ba – Bass

Emi Yabuno – Keys

Sean Dixon – Drums

You can catch the Source the first Friday of the month and the Zinc Bar on 3rd street between Sullivan and Thomson in the West Village.   Sylvain also has an exciting show coming up for the River to River festival on June 25 with his Fula Flute Ensemble.