Abdoulaye “Djoss” Diabate
Sara (Completely Nuts Records, 2009)
Abdoulaye “Djoss” Diabate’s Sara, set for release on April 14, 2009 on Completely Nuts Records, is steeped in the bright, sparkling tradition of badenya or “the passing of tradition from parent to child” that is the source of Mali’s rich musical and cultural traditions. With his previous work with Fula Flute, The Source and his brother Mamadou Diabate, this extraordinary jaliya musician and singer has lured fans with his infectious spirit and musical passion.
Composing and arranging all the songs on Sara, Mr. Diabate enfolds the listener into a delightful curtain of Malian sound, colored by guitar, balafon, kora, flute and percussion. Opening with “Lansine,” a breezy mix of balafon by Famoro Diobate, kora by Yacouba Sissoko, guitar and vocals by Mr. Diabate and additional vocals by Mai Kouyate, Mr. Diabate pays tribute in this song of praise for Lansine Tambadjan, a patron of the jalilu.
Title track “Sara,” originally taught to Mr. Diabate by his step-mother Sira Mory Diabate, is a story of a bride who flees an arranged marriage and finds true love told in the bright, kaleidoscope of colors of guitar, kora and Mr. Diabate’s signature vocals. Tracks like “Korossi,” with vocals by Ms. Kouyate, guitar and flute by Sylvain Leroux or the kora sweet “Foday” or “Ballake” with its splendid balafon and kora interplay make Sara a treasure trove of flavorful compositions, keenly crafted and masterfully executed.
One of my personal favorites is the sunny track entitled “Kuma.” A song admonishing people to not speak ill of others, “Kuma,” peppered throughout with the delicate, music box sound of the kora and rich working of balafon and guitar, makes this cautionary track a truly pleasurable morality lesson.
Warm and radiant as a warm wind across Africa, Sara is a glittering landscape of the very best of Mande tradition of Mali. Polished tracks come alive with guitarist Jekoria Mory Kante, Mr. Dioubate on balafon, Mr. Sissoko on kora, Peter Fand on bass and bolon, percussionists Koulipe and Makane Kouyate and Mr. Leroux on flute and tambin, but mostly by the soaring passion of Mr. Diabate’s expressive vocals and finely worked compositions. Sara is a fresh invitation to dip into the sounds of Mali.
Preorder the CD:
- In North America: Sara
Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.