Posts Tagged ‘kora’



When a chap I work with, Saa, found out that I had been listening to Ali Farka Toure, he got out his USB pen drive and gave me some Vieux Farka Toure and the Ba Cissoko’s album, Sabolan, which was recorded back in 2004.

I was immediately blown away by Mr. Cissoko — what a great album!  Actually I just spent 20 minutes or so writing up this piece, but somehow it vanished as soon as I hit the “publish” button”, so I will try to do it all again — quickly before heading off to bed.  Computers can be a real pest!

The album starts with Dandala which is upbeat, and “sunny”.  It reminded me of Ruth’s pal, Jerry’s band, Zuba — Ruth, Judy, Chris and I used to go along to see Zuba as much as we could at the likes of King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and The  Barrowlands.

The mood calms down for Maïmouna — which starts quite jazzy, with fretless bass.  It soon picks up a skippy beat, and exudes warmth and comforting kora playing — this is a bottled sunset!

Wawata continues, but is definitely after dark, as the groove settles.  Moving on to Kounkouré the night is coming on nicely, this track has superb bass playing, and there is more a tribalism vibe coming through.

Likhirin starts all weird and wistful, chill out that soon turns into a form of Jamaican Reggae! The musicianship, production values, skill and talent is always apparent, but on Yélé, it comes more to the fore — what kora gymnastics! I love that Ba starts singing in the style of George Benson, along with the instrument. Marvellous. Taouyah (which appears a bit later in the album) is also a kind of Reggae.

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Mamaya is a funny thing; it’s kind of Celtic somehow — it reminds me of mod music, or even of trippy folk — possibly more Gentle Giant than Jethro Tull, hard to explain — I even thought of Fripp and King Crimson!  It certainly is a trance track, no bass, no drums, just plucking harp!

Then for a complete contrast, up next pops, the warm morning that is Saï — a gorgeous wee song with a swinging beat. One of my faves.

A serious chillin’ track is Manssani — ECM Jazz, this is dreamy and relaxing. Djeli and Hirdé both start in very similar ways with harp runs. Hirdé, though is slow and sad, chilling and wistful again, morose singing at its most morose! Djeli picks up a bit  and is almost Indian!

The title track, Sabolan, is like Hendrix on kora!  It’s a fuzz box and wah wah lead solo!  It’s fast paced and African, but the track is thoroughly modern.  It manages to blend and forge together weird influences into something new. So a Big Thank You to my mate Saa!