Artist Profiles: Kassé Mady Diabaté

Kassé Mady Diabaté

Kassé Mady Diabaté has one of West Africa’s greatest voices and he’s one of the most cherished singers in Mali. He is known for his profound knowledge of Mali’s deepest oral and musical traditions and the beauty of his tenor voice.

He was born in 1949 in Kela, a renowned center of the Mande jeli tradition in western Mali, near Kangaba, one of the seats of the great Mali empire (1235-1469). 

Kasse Mady’s family, the Diabates of Kela -all of whom are jelis- were the singers for the emperors and their descendants, the royal Keita lineage.  And still today they are considered among the most important and authoritative jeli families across seven West African countries where Mande culture predominates.

Kasse Mady is the second person ever to be given the name Kasse Mady, which means ‘Weep Mady’  (Mady is a regional variant of Mohammed).  His grandfather, also from Kela, was the first.

Mady, the grandfather, had such a beautiful voice that when he sang, he would move people to tears, therefore his nickname, ‘Kasse from Kassi,’ (to weep).  Kasse Mady the younger was given this name at birth to honor the grandfather.  But no one in the family could imagine that his voice would have the same power and ability to move people to extreme states of emotion.

While still a young boy, Kasse Mady began singing at local weddings and other ceremonies, and around 1970 he was invited to become the lead singer of the dance orchestra of the nearby town of Kangaba.  This orchestra was called the Super Mande, a name his brother Lafia Diabate, also a well-known singer, now uses for his own band of Kela musicians who are based in Bamako and who are the principal musicians on the album Kassi Kasse.

The decade of 1970s was an important period in Mali because of the new Cultural Authenticity policies that was in place in the newly independent nation states of West Africa.  In Mali, as elsewhere, musicians were encouraged to return to their own folklore instead of imitating rock or Cuban music.  As it happened, Kasse Mady’s special blend of traditional Mande folklore with modern instruments was to play an important role in this movement.

Every two years, the Malian government sponsored a major festival call the Biennale, in which all the regional ensembles and dance orchestras competed with each other.  In 1973, it was the Super Mande from Kangaba who won, thanks to the remarkable singing of Kasse Mady.

Not long before that, a group of eight musicians who had been studying music in Cuba had returned to Mali and formed the group Las Maravillas de Mali, famous for their charanga interpretations of Cuban classics.  But according to the dictates of Cultural Authenticity, they had to begin to take on more of a Malian repertoire.  After hearing Kasse Mady perform at the Biennale, they decided that he was the one to do this.

The musical director was sent down to Kela, 104 kms west of Bamako down a bumpy dirt road, to find the singer.  After various ritual consultations with the family, who were (and still are) very protective of their traditions, Kasse Mady was allowed to go to join the band in Bamako. Soon after, the Maravillas began enjoying a tremendous success throughout West Africa with songs like ‘Balomina Mwanga’ and ‘Maimouna,’ all sung memorably by the young Kasse Mady in Cuban style, but with a new Mande touch. 

Around 1976 the band renamed themselves National Badema du Mali (meaning national family of Mali). Kasse Mady launched this new lineup with several deep Mande songs that were to become hits, such as ‘Sindiya (later re-recorded by Ali Farka Toure as ‘Singya’ on his first World Circuit album) and ‘Fode’ that was also the title of Kasse’s first solo album in 1988.  Other hits were ‘Nama,’ a song Kasse Mady composed about a true story of a canoe that overturned while crossing the river Niger on September 22 in which many people drowned and ‘Guede’ that he later re-recorded with american bluesman Taj Mahal.
  
By the mid 1980s, there was no longer much interest among Malian audiences in the old dance bands of the 1970s.  The Rail Band was playing to ever decreasing audiences, and the Ambassadeurs, formerly led by singer Salif Keita, had disbanded.

So when Kasse Mady was invited to Paris to record his first solo album for Senegalese producer Ibrahima Sylla (of Africando fame), Kasse decided to try his luck. He left the national Badema and moved to Paris, where he spent the next ten years. During this period he recorded two solo albums, Fode, an electric dance album that was meant to be the answer to Salif Keita’s Soro but did not enjoy the same promotion; and Kela Tradition, an acoustic album of Kela jeli songs, both on the Paris label Syllart. 

Also in this period, Kasse Mady collaborated in the album Songhai 2 with Spanish flamenco group Ketama and Malian kora player Toumani Diabate, with some stunning versions of classics such as ‘Mali Sajio,’ as well as, the beautiful ballad ‘Pozo del Deseo’ sung together with Ketama singer Antonio Carmona.

But things did not turn out as planned in Paris. Kasse Mady’s non-confrontational and peaceful character did not help him find his way through the labyrinth of royalty payments and contracts and the hard-nosed music business of Paris. 

Exploited and disappointed, he returned to Bamako in 1998 where things began to look up for him.  The music scene in Bamako had picked up considerably since he had left ten years before. For a start, there was now a new democratic government and a renewed interest among the youth in traditional music. 

The kora player Toumani Diabate immediately recruirted Kasse Mady for more collaboration after the successful work they had done together on Songhai 2.  Kasse Mady was invited to take part in the acclaimed Kulanjan project with Taj Mahal.  Taj was so moved by Kasse’s singing that he presented him with a beautiful steel-body guitar and now, having heard the new album Kassi Kasse, is so entranced by it that he takes it with him everywhere he goes on his extensive concert tours.

in 2010, Kasse Mady partricipated in the landmark Afrocubism project, a spectacular collaboration of musicians from Mali and Cuba. the lineup featured Eliades Ochoa, Bassekou Kouyate, Djelimady Tounkara, Toumani Diabaté, Grupo Patria, Kasse Mady Diabaté and Lassana Diabaté.

Discography

* Fode (Syllart)
* Kela Tradition (Syllart)
* Songhai 2 (Hannibal, 1994)
* Kulanjan (Hannibal, 1999)
* Kassi Kasse (Narada, 2003)
* Manden Djeli Kan (Wrasse Records, 2009)
* Afrocubism (World Circuit, 2010)
* Kiriké – Horse’s saddle (No Format!, 2014)

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Artist Profiles: Karl Seglem

Karl Seglem in 2010 playing saxophone – Photo by Angel Romero

 

Karl Seglem was born in 1961 in Årdalstangen in Sogn. He’s one of the most important contemporary tenor saxophonists in Norway.

With the group Sogn-A-Song, the trio Utla and the duo Isglem, Seglem has consistently broken through musical boundaries with his wide range of musical perceptions and daring improvisational style.

Seglem’s influences include Norway’s rich folk music traditions and jazz, combined with his own sense of expression make his music a modern soundscape that gives equal weight to improvisation and composition. His saxophone tone is innovative in its use of breath, resonance and syncopation.

He also plays the Norwegian ram’s horn. Seglem’s music has a wide scope, ranging from folk to free form and world beat, inspired by and invoking Nordic nature. In addition to his many CD releases, he has composed several major works and has performed them in public.

 

Karl Seglem in 2010 playing Norwegian ram’s horn – Photo by Angel Romero

 

Seglem was awarded the Edvard prize in 1998 for his piece “Tya.”

Seglem has toured extensively throughout Norway and abroad.

Discography

* Poems for trio (NOR-CD HCRCD 49, 1988)
* Sogn-A-Song (NOR-CD 9101, 1991)
* Rom, with Isglem (NOR-CD 9102, 1991)
* To Steg, with Isglem (NOR-CD 9204, 1992)
* Utla (NOR-CD 9205, 1992)
* Juv, with Utla (NOR-CD 9309, 1993)
* Rit, with Sogn-A-Song (NOR-CD 9410, 1994)
* Brodd, with Utla (NOR-CD 9514, 1995)
* Null g, with Isglem (NOR-CD 9615, 1996)
* Prosa, with Jon Fosse (NOR-CD 9616, 1996)
* Tya, with Reidar Skår (NOR-CD 9717, 1997)
* Spir, with Sogn-A-Song (NOR-CD 9830, 1998)
* Dans, with Utla (NOR-CD 9935, 1999)
* Daa, with Henriksen, Seglem, Isungset (2000)
* Nye Nord (2002)
* Fire, with Isglem (2003)
* Song, with Utla (2003)
* Femstein (NorCD, 2004)
* Budda og reven Singie (NorCD, 2005)
* Reik (NorCD, 2005)
* Urbs (NorCD, 2006)
* Spelferd – a playful journey DVD (NorCD, 2008)
* NORSKjazz.no (NorCD, 2009)
* Skoddeheimen (NorCD, 2009)
* Draumkvedet (NorCD, 2009)
* Ossicles (NorCD, 2010)
* NyeSongar.no (Ozella Music, 2013)
* Som Spor (NorCD, 2014)
* Waves, with Christoph Stiefel (Challenge, 2015)
* Laerad The Tree (NorCD, 2015)
* Live In Germany (NorCD, 2015)
* WorldJazz (NorCD/Ozella, 2015)
* Nordic Balm (NorCD, 2016)

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Top Flamenco Talent at Chicago Flamenco Festival 2017

Anabel Veloso – Photo by Oscar Romero (Bienal de Flamenco)

The Chicago Cervantes Institute celebrates, in collaboration with the SGAE Foundation, the Old Town School of Folk Music, the Flamenco Arts Center and the City Winery, will present the XV Chicago Flamenco Festival from February 24 to March 25.

During five weeks, this festival will bring together young flamenco artists as well as established stars of this genre in order to bring Spanish culture closer to Chicago.

In 2017 the lineup includes Anabel Veloso, Alfonso Aroca, Josemi Carmona & Javier Colina, Alba Heredia and Isaac De Los Reyes, Amparo Heredia, Angel Ruiz, Las guitarras de España, Tamar Ilana, La Chimi.

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Flamenco Eñe Heads to New York, Miami and Chicago in March 2017

left to right clockwise: Alfonso Aroca; Josemi Carmona & Javier Colina; and UHF at Flamenco Eñe 2016. Photo by Jesús Domínguez

The SGAE Foundation will continue with its Spanish Flamenco promotion overseas program, Flamenco Eñe, with presentations in New York City, Miami and Chicago during March 2017. The artists featured include flamenco fusion acts performed by Josemi Carmona & Javier Colina, pianist Alfonso Aroca and the instrumental flamenco quartet Ultra High Flamenco (UHF). All of them participated in the first edition of Flamenco Eñe that took place in Malaga last May 2016.

The Flamenco Eñe Malaga showcase brought together several foreign performing arts presenters and promoters with a selection of musicians from Spain.

The Flamenco Eñe initiative has opened the doors of the international circuits to Josemi Carmona & Javier Colina, Alfonso Aroca and Ultra High Flamenco (UHF), who will export their talent within the official program of Flamenco Festival 2017, held in New York and Miami between March 2 and 19, and the XV Chicago Flamenco Festival, organized by the Cervantes Institute, with the collaboration of the SGAE Foundation, until March 25.

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The Hybrid Sounds of Belgium’s Zanzibar

Zanzibar – Fiali in Chicago

Zanzibar – Fiali in Chicago (Home Records, 2016)

Belgian multi-ethnic band Zanzibar plays an unexpected mix of rhythmic Afropop music, harmonica-based American blues, boogie woogie, jazz, Haitian folk music and even a traditional African American prison work song titled “‘Berta ‘Berta”.

Zanzibar uses vocals in various languages, including English, French, Kirundi (language of Burundi) and Haitian Creole.

Band members include vocalist Desire Ntemere from Burundi on vocals; Belgian multi-instrumentalist Renaud Patigny on piano, keyboards, balafon, and vocals; Kankan Bayo from Guinea Conakry on percussion and vocals; and Belgian harmonica ace Genevieve Dartevelle, who also plays didgeridoo.

Genevieve Dartevelle delivers outstanding performances on the harmonica.

Fiali in Chicago is available from homerecords.downloadbox.eu

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WOMAD Charlton Park 2017 Reveals First Artists

Bombino – Photo by Ron Wyman

WOMAD UK has announced some of the artists scheduled to perform at the 35th edition of the acclaimed world music festival. The event will take place at Charlton Park near Malmesbury in Wiltshire during July 27-30, 2017.

The first set of artists announced include South African vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Benjamin Zephaniah, the modern Balkan sounds of Serbian artist Emir Kusturica, Tuareg desert blues act Bombino, and Squarepusher side project Shobaleader One.

Other artists include Nubian pop band Alsarah & the Nubatones (Sudan/USA); Creole jazz, soul and rock music by Bokanté (USA/Guadeloupe); Chilean cumbia party masters Chico Trujillo; the Pacific Coast Afro-Colombian sounds of Grupo Canalón de Timbiquí; Welsh Celtic music maestro Jamie Smith’s Mabon (UK); Khmer Rouge Survivors (Cambodia); experimental folk artist Maarja Nuut (Estonia), The Nile Project (Egypt/Ethiopia and more); Nomade Orquestra (Brazil); Rajab Suleiman & Kithara (Zanzibar); Savina Yannatou (Greece); Spooky Men’s Chorale (Australia); Tom Middleton (UK); and Zhou Family Band (China).

Tickets and more details can be found at womad.co.uk

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Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal to perform at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro

Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal

 

Malian kora maestro Ballaké Sissoko and French cello virtuoso Vincent Segal are set to perform on Tuesday February 28 at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina.

The two musicians have developed a distinctive hybrid musical style that mixes traditional West African and European Baroque music.

The duo released a remarkable debut album titled Chamber Music, released in North America in 2011. Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal continued the collaboration in 2015 with Musique du Nuit.

 

 

Tuesday February 28 at 8 PM
The ArtsCenter, 300-G E. Main Street, Carrboro, NC.

Tickets for this show are $22. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit artscenterlive.org or call the Box Office at (919) 929-2787.

Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal will start their North American tour tomorrow. Tour dates:

Feb. 23, Berea College, Berea KY
Feb. 24, University of VT, Burlington VT
Feb. 25, Palais Montcalm, Quebec
Feb. 26, Le Gesu, Montreal
Feb. 28, The Arts Center, Carrboro NC
March 1, The Barns at Wolftrap Vienna
March 3, French Institute Alliance, New York NY
March 4, Villa Victoria, Boston, MA
March 5, North Beach Band Shell, Miami Beach
March 8, Old Town School of Folk, Chicago IL
March 9, Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis MN

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Tunisian Sensation Emel Mathlouthi to Perform in New York

Influential Tunisian vocalist Emel Mathlouthi is set to perform February 24th, 2017 at Joe’s Pub in New York City. Emel Mathlouthi is well-known for her role as a leading artist in the Arab Spring.

Born in Tunis, she was avoided by her country’s official radio stations but gained popularity through social media. She released her acclaimed first album, Kelmti Horra (My Word is Free) in 2012. Emel’s style is characterized by her commanding vocals along with a fusion of North African rhythms and modern electronic beats.

Her new album, Ensen, is scheduled for release February 24, 2017.

Joe’s Pub
425 Lafayette St, New York
Doors at 9:00 p.m., Show at 9:30 p.m.

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The Marley Brothers to Perform Together at Kaya Fest in Miami

Kaya Fest, an all-day musical event, will take place April 22 in Miami at Bayfront Park Amphitheater. The headliners are The Marleys: Ziggy, Damian, Stephen, Ky Mani with special guest Miss Lauryn Hill. Also performing are Sean Paul, Wycleff Jean, Inner Circle, Jo Mersa Marley, Skip Marley, Shacia Payne, and more to be announced.

In addition to great reggae music, Kaya Fest will focus on creating public awareness on the many uses of the cannabis plant. On April 21st the organizers have scheduled a free symposium with a panel of experts in the field of medical and industrial cannabis as well as the regulation aspects of the plant.

Medical Cannabis has recently been legalized in the state of Florida. The many health benefits of the cannabis plant have been reported to include treatment of glaucoma, control epileptic seizures, stop cancer from spreading, slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease, ease pain of multiple sclerosis, discomfort of arthritis, treatment of Lupus and Crohn’s disease.

Bayfront Park Amphitheater
301 North Biscayne Blvd, Downtown, Miami
Gates: Open 1:00pm

More at http://kayafestivals.com

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Acclaimed Mauritanian Musician Noura Mint Seymali to Perform in Philadelphia

Noura Mint Seymali

Crossroads Music will present Noura Mint Seymali, one of the leading acts from Mauritania, on Sunday, February 26, 2017.

Noura is a skilled ardin (a 9-string harp reserved only for women) player and vocalist. Her band features the psychedelic guitar lines delivered by her husband Jeiche Ould Chighaly.

The current band features a powerful rhythm section, composed of Ousmane Touré on bass and Matthew Tinari on drums. Noura Mint Seymali released Tzenni, her first full-length album widely available to international audiences in 2014. It was followed by Arbina in 2016.

7:30 pm
801 South 48th Street, Philadelphia

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