|Africa/Middle East: Reviews||
Please note this is an old page and Fly Global Music has now moved. Please follow this link and search for the entry in the new site.
He's 'The Golden Voice of Guinea' but I heard him in buses, in bars, and on tape players all over Mali about a month ago. He's big there, so I can't imagine what its like in Guinea. If a story from way back in the 70s is anything to go by -- he's very big indeed. Guinea's President Sekou TourÈ heard Sekouba sing in a local band and invited him to sing in the Bembeya Jazz National -- one of the state supported bands of the time. Sekouba was 16 years old. Three government ministers were sent to negotiate the transfer.
There's something fantastic about him: as soon as one of his songs starts, you just stop dead in your tracks. He has this voice that just erupts out of him. The BBC's Lucy Durrant has been quoted as saying, "Had he been a European, he would have become an opera singer," But its more than that...it's breathy and passionate and big all in one go.
I got hooked on him and on any street corner in Mali I went looking for CDs, cassettes, anything really with his name on it. It's all a bit confusing, what with clever guys with computers making bootlegged CDs and tapes look like the real thing. I came back with his 15e Anniversaire album which was released early in 2005 and then a tape with a fantastic cover calling itself Tunis 2004 Warasso which is actually some of the songs pirated off his 2004 album Ambiance Ballon. Judging by his other album covers I've seen, he'd be sickened by this one.
So the story so far, but maybe you all know this? Sekouba Diabate was born in the 60s in the north of Guinea, near the border with Mali. Born to griot parents. Sekouba's mother seemed to be a well-known musician herself, she died when Sekouba was very young and he grew up listening to her songs being played on the radio.
He took over the vocals of the first of West Africa's horn-led bands, Bembeya Jazz as a teenager, so young they coined the name Bambino. He then started his own band in the 90s, released his first cassette Sama, Le Destin album in '92 and Kassa in '97. He then started to work with characters known for their work with Salif Keita -- executive producer Ibrahim Sylla; arranger/keyboard player Francois Breant; and guitarist Ousmane Kouyate. The release of Sinikan in 2002 seemed to have got him noticed in Europe; the album reached No.1 on Europe's World Music Charts in 2002 for a couple of months and was written about and reviewed by all those in the know.
And the music? The selection I have is enough to tell me he's not afraid to mix styles, instrumentation and rhythm. There's the stamp of Guinea there -- the traditional Mande style and heavy griot infuence -- lacey rhythms, empassioned singing, all mixed up with groovy electric guitars, horns that blast their way through a track, and then skins, strings and everything in between.
At first you may think Sekouba just produces a bright and breezy sound, but there's such an ease and confidence when it comes to the creation and production you can't ignore it. And then when you hear the voice...
The latest album Sekouba Bambino was released in March 2005 but I'm enjoying 15e Anniversaire. Don't be put off -- the first few seconds of Track 1 is indeed the backing singers doing a French 'Happy Birthday', it does get better with a treat of a horn section and effortless electric guitar for a jazzy number. Track 7 'Bamako Jolie' has a more traditional layered instrumental backdrop -- the plucked strings of the kora and that characteristic rhythm from the region. My favourite is track 2 'Mbambou', all there is is fluttering guitar sounds and breathy vocals and you just know it's a great love song, "I'm sorry, I mess up but I love you..."
Sterns Music stocks Sinikan up to the latest release: www.sternsmusic.com
Visit Fly's new Amazon shops:
Fly Music Shop UK / Fly Music Shop US
|Africa/Middle East: Reviews
SMOD - SMOD
Staff Benda Bilili and Fatoumata Diawara - Roundhouse (Live Review)
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo - Cotonou Club
African Soul Rebels 2011 - Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 / Donso
Ebo Taylor - Life Stories: Highlife & Afrobeat Classics 1973-1980
|Search Google for more about: Sekouba Bambino
|CC Some Rights Reserved FLY 2012 || Add to Del.icio.us|