Tag Archives: talking drum

Artist Profiles: Baba Sissoko

Baba Sissoko

Baba Sissoko is a master of the talking drums (tamani). He is also a jali (griot) by birth. He has collaborated and recorded with Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita, Habib Koite, Rokia Traore, Ibrahim Ferrer, Buena Vista Social Club, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Don Moye and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Mamady Keita.

Sissoko formed a trio with musicians from other traditions: Roger Sabal Lecco played bass with Manu Dibango, Myriam Makeba, Fela Kuti, Francis Bebey, Lucio Dalla and Louisiana Red; and Reynaldo Hernandez played percussion with the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional of Cuba and with the Gipsy Kings.

The trio celebrates the meeting of 3 great musicians at the top of their art, inspired by their own cultures: Manding, Bambara, Sonrai, Yoruba and Congo. In addition, the trio also has blues, jazz and rock elements, acquired during their careers.

Baba Sissoko – lead vocal, tamani, ngoni, kamalengoni, bala, calabass
Roger Sabal Lecco – bass, vocals
Reynaldo Hernandez – Cuban percussion, vocals


Djana (Ports song, 1999)
Bamako Chicago Express (Live In Longiano) (Il Manifesto, 2002)
Al Majmaâ (Igloo, 2004)
Djeliya (Il Manifesto, 2004)
Djekafo (Il Manifesto, 2007)
Fanfare & Choeur (AZ Productions, 2007)
Culture Griot (Cypres, 2009)
Regard Sur Le Passe (Sidecar, 2011)
African Griot Groove (Goodfellas, 2012)
Tchiwara (Goodfellas, 2014)
Three Gees (Blind Faith Records, 2015)
Khalab & Baba (Wonderwheel Recordings, 2015)
Jazz (R)evolution (Caligola, 2015)
Ancestral Ritual (2017)
Mediterranean Blues (Caligola, 2017)
Griot Blues (One Root Music, 2017)


Master Drummer Reflects on His Wide-ranging International Music Journey

Nii Okai Tagoe – West to West (Arc Music EUCD 2641, 2016)

“We have to maintain dignity with each other whoever we are – from city or country, young or old, wise, poor and no matter how rich … it can all be gone tomorrow,” says Ghanaian percussionist, vocalist and flutist Nii Okai Tagoe. In keeping with that statement, he gives equal, fair attention to every player and instrument on this record. This is not an attempt to return to any roots, but a utilization of old and new, traditional and innovative, Ghanaian and Western musical tools to build a coherent narrative.

The eleven songs each have their own power and message, and the album leaves the listener feeling that his or her perspective is enhanced. Liner notes include statement summaries to accompany each song. The first cut, “Nyungmbo,” has the message, “Leave me, watch me and let me show you what I can do. A mother always feels pain when a child is crying.” The third, “Moni Sane Yemi,” is, “When you know you are in the right, don’t rush. Rushing could cost you your rights. Don’t worry, justice will come.” “Mile Mi Ley,” the seventh tune, is accompanied by the observation, “If we knew tomorrow, the way we’d approach today would be different.”

Expressing these thoughts with a number of African percussion instruments and a full, modern Western jazz band, Mr. Tagoe gives us a CD full of drive, tangents, rhythm and drive. It will draw listeners toward genres and thoughts, but not lock them into any one standard record store bin. This release could be filed under jazz, rock, world or modern folk.

Thank you, Nii Okai Tagoe, for having so much to say.

The lineup on West to West includes Nii Okai Tagoe on balafon, jembe, gome drum, kpalongo drums, chene (calabash), axatse (shaker), gankogui (bell), djun djun, brekete drum, tama (talking drum), and lead and backing vocals; Jose Joyette (Michael Jackson/George Harrison/Amy Winehouse)on drum kit; Alexander K. Boateng on drum kit; Tim Robinson on drum kit; Alfred ‘Kari’ Bannerman (Osibisa) on guitar; Wendell Richardson on guitar; Jez King on guitar; Martin Craddick (Baka Beyond) on guitar; Davide Cammelli on guitar; Derrick McIntyre (Jamiroquai & Beverley Knight) on bass; Emmanuel Rentzos (Johnny Nash/Roy Ayers) on keyboards; Paddy le Mercier (Baka Beyond) on violin; Ellen Mason on harp; Colin Graham (Wham/UB40) on trumpet; Jon Petter on saxophone; and Molara on backing vocals.

Buy West to West in North America

Buy West To West in Europe