Percussion and global rhythms played a large role during the last day of concerts on Sunday, July 15th, at the Rainforest World Music Festival 2012. A brief introduction to the Drums of Malaysia gave way to pan-Asian fusion band HATA. The core band is formed by masterful Korean musicians led by Lui Park. They were joined by instrumentalists from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Malaysia and Taiwan. They combined instrumental virtuosity with inspired fusion pieces.
Next came the sounds of the Basque chalaparta (txalaparta in Basque) performed by Oreka TX, a band that has modernized the traditional Basque musical instrument. Oreka TX uses various types of chalapartas, made out of wood, stone and plastic. The stone chalaparta is the most mesmerizing of all. In a press conference prior to the concert, band members mentioned how airlines are sometimes surprised to find their heavy tuned stones listed as musical instruments.
Oreka TX accompanied its music with images from its critically acclaimed video of their musical travels throughout the world. Their discography includes Quercus Endorphina (2001) and Nomadak Tx (2009).
Malaysia has a sizable community of Indian origin. Samuel Dass and Prakash, who are also members of HATA, performed skilled Indian classical music on sitar and tabla.
Balaphonist Mamadou Diabate was one of the highlights of the evening. His name sometimes leads to confusion. There are two well-known Mamadou Diabates out there. One is a renowned Jeli (oral historians and musicians also known as griots) kora player from Mali and the other one is the masterful Austrian-based Jeli balaphonist from Burkina Faso who played at the Rainforest World Music Festival. Mamadou Diabate presented a captivating and powerful performance with two spectacular balaphones, dazzling jembe, ngoni and electric bass played by a Colombian musician.
Mamadou Diabate was born into the Diabate Jeli family in Burkina Faso in 1973. The Jeli families have maintained the art of making music for many centuries. “We are still devoted to this profession and, therefore there are a lot of Diabates on the top of the West African music scene,” says Mamadou Diabate. “The Diabates in the north-western Mande area (Mali, Senegal) mainly play the kora. We, in the Southeast (Guinea, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso) play the balaphone.”
At the age of five, Diabate began his professional training. He traveled with various musician families and finally created the group Landaya, which in 1998 won the first prize of the SNC in Burkina Faso. Mamadou Diabate composes music and plays the balaphone as well as various rhythm instruments. He also gives workshops, in order to make people familiar with the diversity of West African music. Since April 2000, he lives in Austria. His discography includes Sababu (2001), Keneya (2002), Sira Fila (2003), Folikelaw (2005), Kamalenya (2006), Yala (2010), Fenba (2010), Kanuya (2011) and Mutua (2012).
After Diabate’s momentum, the sounds of Sarawak returned with native chanting and sape and warrior dances.
The last concert was by UK-based Congolese star Kanda Bongo Man. The charismatic singer created one of the signature modern dances from Congo known as kwasa kwasa and he and his astonishing hip-swinging female dancers showed the audience the dance moves. This was the time for dancing and good fun.
Kanda Bongo Ma’s extensive discography includes: Iyole (1981), Djessy(1982), Amour Fou (1984), Malinga (1986), Lela Lela(1987), Sai Liza (1988), Kwassa Kwassa (1989), Isambe Monie (1990), Zing Zong (1991), Sango (1992), Soukous in Central Park (1993), Sweet (1995), Welcome to South Africa (1995), Francophonix (1999), Balobi (2002), Swalati (2003), Sana (2006), Soukous time (2008), and Non-Stop Feeling (2010)