"cj012 - "Sandiya"" - Keletigui Diabate

Keletigui Diabate
  • artist:Keletigui Diabate
  • region:West Africa
  • release year:2002
  • style(s):Afro, Traditional
  • country:Mali
  • formats:Book, CD (Compact Disc)
  • record posted by:Contre-Jour
  • label:CONTRE-JOUR sprl
  • publisher:Contre-Jour
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The balafon, west African xylophone of wood, must make the most soothing sound of any instrument. The resonance – so warm, so entirely lacking in staccato and spite – is ideally formed to flow through and around open doors and windows in a stream of pure pleasure, and griot Diabate knows more about making and managing that stream than just abot anyone. Since 1998 he has been playing in Bamada, Habib’s Koité band, but his pedigree goes way back to the First national Orchestra in Guinea, the Orchestre national de la République de Mali, to the early days of amplication in Bamako with Les Ambassadeurs along with Salif Keita. He jammed with Lionel Hampton in the US, backed griots such as Ami Koita, Tata Bambo and Kandia Kouyate, and played many sessions with the likes of Toumani Diabate. He plays also guitar, violin and sax.
So you imagine you’re getting something with a bit of bottom when a man like this makes a solo album, and so it proves. The ear is immediately disarmed by a balafon duet with his son Fassery, a nimble and jolly intro, followed by a lovely duet with Toumani Diabate on kora. Further guests appear, including Diawoye Diarra on flute, habib Koite on guitar, the magnificient stomping Ensemble traditionnel du Mali, with great singing from a girl chorus too, and then none other than Djelimady Tounkara, playing superlative guitar - an odd but powerful mixture of chord and single-string runs – and plenty of room with just Kélétigui’s balafon for both to show their excellence. This is an all-star cast, but nowhere a hint of showboating ; the whole project is tight, modest and absolutely to the point.
Some of the melodies are just heartbreaking, others bouncy, others more cerebral, and to close there’s even a rather smart version of Summertime – yes, the Gershwin – with the boys of Bamada. It’s painless ! And if you hunger to know what classical violin sounds like in malian, Kélétigui plays a track of it to his son’s balafon. It’s spare, restrained, operating to refined levels of taste and feeling. As throughout : this is an album people will be playing for years to come.

Rick Sanders

1. Djandjo
2. Kamadia
3. Séné
4. Djarabi
5. Koulandian
6. Fôsson
7. Mankaïra
8. Nanga Mady
9. Sambakoro
10. Sandiya
11. Sontaoula
12. Souma
13. Yafa
14. Soundjata
15. Summertime