Al Bilali Soudan’s relaxed performance is an improvisational tour de force of traditionally based rhythms and scales. The group’s name is an ancient reference to the city of Timbuktu. Their style is Takamba or, in Timbuktu, Tashigalt or, simply: Tehardent, after the traditional stringed instrument of these forgeron musicians.
The group’s leader, Abellow Yattara, hails from a well-known Tuareg forgeron family which has performed this music for generations. Mr. Yattara began to play this three-stringed fretless instrument when he was 10 years old. Both his father and uncle were master musicians and his grandfather was also known for making the ceremonial swords used in traditional dance that accompanies the music.
Abellow Yattara’s instrument is widely heard in West Africa. Known as Tehardent in Tamasheq, Ngoni in Bambara, Kourbou in Sonhrai, and Tidinit in Arabic, some say it is the precursor of the modern banjo. Instruments similar to the Tehardent have accompanied griots, bards, dancers and vocalists for centuries. The percussion instruments heard on this recording are the Calabash, a hollowed half gourd.
Mr. Yattara can be heard on many recordings such as the first cassette recordings of Ali Farka Toure, the 1970’s recordings of the Orchestre de Tombouctou, and many Radio Mali broadcasts. He can also be heard on the recordings of several other contemporary artists such as the vocalist, Khaira Arby, and he is widely sought after to play at weddings, baptisms and other celebrations.
Now, Abellow Yattara brings his own group, AL BILALI SOUDAN, to world audiences! This recording represents contemporary masters of their instruments and their genre.