Guinean Guitar Elegance and Dexterity

Les Virtuoses Diabate -  African Virtuoses - The Classic Guinean Guitar Group
Les Virtuoses Diabate – African Virtuoses – The Classic Guinean Guitar Group
Les Virtuoses Diabate

African Virtuoses – The Classic Guinean Guitar Group (Sterns Africa, 2007)

Pooling the 1972 Discotheque 70 and the 1975 Virtuoses Diabate La Nouvelle Mariee sessions recorded in Guinea-Conakry, along with the 1983 sessions of African Virtuoses, recorded in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Stern Music has re-released the gems of the three recordings of the Guinea guitar maestros Diabate Brothers – Papa, Sekou "Docteur," Sire and Abdoulaye.

The free and easy flow of the acoustic guitar work of these masters proves again the power held by Diabate music dynasty. By birth the brothers are of the jelis or hereditary professional musicians of Mali. Straying from the griot tradition of the religious singing of prayers, the brothers immediately enthralled listeners with their prowess of the Guinean guitar. 

Leaping headlong into the sparkling "Nanibali," with Abdoulaye Diabate and Sekou Kouyate on guitar, African Virtuoses sparkles with fire and light, and includes some little singing from Abdoulaye. "Kankan Diarabi," a popular love song from Guinea, is dazzling. Possessing an almost flamenco flavor, the piece draws influence from the balafon. but it’s the the guitar work of Abdoulaye and Sekou as they battle it out in spectacular solos that is the main attraction.


"Hafia" is ripe with the soulful sound of Cuba that melts beautifully with the African spirit of Guinea. "N’fa" is a composition by Sire Diabate dedicated to the Diabate patriarch. Intertwined in this achingly lovely piece is the duo guitar work of Sekou and Abdoulaye. "Solo Virtuose," recorded in 1970 with Papa Diabate and Sekou "Docteur" Diabate, is all charm. The gentle melody features Papa Diabate in the lead with Sekou playing the base line. The sweetness of this piece comes from the interplay between brothers and the simple elegance that is anything but simple.

Besides the astounding Diabate brothers, there are some other equally astonishing musicians on these recordings. From the 1983 recordings there’s guitarist and kora player Sekou Kouyate, Honomou Jerome Claver on guitar, Fassou Habass on percussion and Pierre Houon on tumba.

Drawing inspiration from flamenco, the Latin flavors of Cuba and South America and the Parisian sound of Belgian guitar master Django Reinhardt, the Diabate brothers have turned the Guinean guitar outward while incorporating the sound of the African musical landscape. Lovingly crafted, the pieces of African Virtuoses – The Classic Guinean Guitar Group are the classics by which future Guinean guitarist will have beat.

Buy African Virtuoses – The Classic Guinean Guitar Group.

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.