Artist: Mamadou Diabate
Title Of Album: Griot Classique
Year Of Release: 2014
Quality: V0 Kbps
Total Time: 74:55 min
Total Size: 133 MB
01. Nelson Mandela
02. Ahlah Barison
03. Bi Kaira
04. Sambou De Mande
06. Amadou Ly
07. Keep It Simple
11. Master Kora Only
Mamadou Diabate’s sixth album affirms that he is one of the finest kora players living in the world today. With his 2009 Grammy Award in Best Traditional World Music for his last solo album, Douga Mansa, he returns with a new solo album Griot Classique. It is dedicated to his father, Djelimory N’fa Diabate, and to Nelson Mandela. Featuring new composition, innovating on the traditional melodies, these new pieces highlight his versatility as a composer. While playing his one kora, Mamadou’s simultaneous combination of accompaniment and solo playing produces sounds of two koras playing at once, highlighting his adept skill as a kora virtuoso.
Mamadou was destined to play the kora. He was born in 1975 in Kita, a Malian city long known as a center for the arts and culture of the Manding people of West Africa. As the name Diabate indicates, Mamadou comes from a family of griots, or jelis as they are known among the Manding. Jelis are more than just traditional musicians. They use music and sometimes oratory to preserve and sustain people's consciousness of the past: a past that stretches back to the 13th century when the Manding king Sunjata Keita consolidated the vast Empire of Mali, covering much of West Africa. The stories of these glory days and the times since remain important touchstones for people today, not only for the Manding, but for many citizens of Mali, Guinea, Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Cote D’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Sierra Leone. So to be born to a distinguished jeli family in Kita is already an auspicious beginning.
Mamadou's father Djelimory played the kora, the jeli's venerable 21-string harp. He was widely known as N'fa Diabate, one of the founders of the Instrumental Ensemble of Mali and recorded on the National Radio of Mali. At the age of four, Mamadou went to live with his father in Bamako, where the Ensemble was based. When it came time for him to return to Kita and go to school, Mamadou knew that the kora was his destiny. His father had taught him how to play the instrument, and from there he listened and watched and devoted himself to practicing the kora, to the point that his mother worried that he was not concentrating enough on school. When she took it away, it only reduced his interest in studying, and he quickly resorted to making his own kora so he could continue.
Mamadou says that his father advised him to listen to all the best kora players and to learn from each one. The kora itself came from the Empire of Mali, which was located in the present-day region of Gabu, centered between Guinea Bissau, Gambia, and Senegal. The Malian kora tradition has always put a premium on holding onto the old ways while constantly innovating and developing the art in new ways.
In 2000, Mamadou recorded his debut Tunga (Alula), which means adventure, and this wide ranging, collaborative work served as the calling card of a most adventurous musician. In 2003, he recorded Behmanka (World Village). Here, in the tradition of his cousin, Toumani, Mamadou challenged himself to make a solo recording, one that would demonstrate his profound knowledge of tradition, his mastery of his instrument, and his personal innovation as a player. It is a tour de force, and it earned him a Grammy Award nomination in 2005. In 2006 Mamadou released another ensemble album, Heritage (World Village). In the following year, American Folk Alliance awarded him World Music Artist of the Year, 2007. Mamadou released his second solo album in 2008, Douga Mansa (World Village). This earned him the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music. Courage (World Village), recorded in Bamako, Mali, was released in 2011.
Special thanks to Jason Richmond for his vision and determination for this project, and to the Rotimi Foundation for financial support.
Thanks to Will “Kairaba” Ridenour and Teli Shabu for their assistance with the recording, my wife Dafina Blacksher Diabate, and all the wonderful people who have been supporting me since I continued my musical career here in the U.S.A.
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