Oct 8, 2013

RhoDeo 1340 Roots

Hello, we still find ourselves in an environment that gave rise to the worlds monotheistic religions be that on the Arabian peninsula, here we stay in the Saharan/Sahel band stretching from the West-Atlantic coast to the highlands of Ethiopia in the east of the continent, a vast area where fresh water useally tends to come at a premium , where the sun is burning down during daytime and nighttime can be cold, where the moon is the sole light source apart from the warming campfires. Is it any surprise then that singing and making music together lifted the spirits of those gathering in these desolate landscapes. And the moon became their God.

Today more from Mali, after all it has one of the most intensely musical cultures in all Africa. Today's artist sort of announced himself the previous weeks, he is unique not only because of his reputation as the "Golden Voice of Africa" but because he has albinism aswell, a bad omen in supersticious Africa. But then he was of royal heritage alas this meant that under the Malian caste system, he should never have become a singer, which was deemed to be a griot’s role. In short a most unlikely career was what followed here today compilations of his seventies work. ......N'joy

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Salif Keita gave up a lot to pursue his dreams of a career in music. Keita was born in the village of Djoliba. He was cast out by his family and ostracized by the community because of his albinism, a sign of bad luck in Mandinka culture (and the rest of Africa). Born (August 25, 1949) to royal lineage, with ancestral roots going back to Soundjata Keita, the founder of the Malian Empire in 1240, Keita was disowned by his father after announcing his plans to play music. Keita's dreams, however, were too strong to be shattered.

Moving to the capitol city of Bamako in 1967, he was soon playing in nightclubs with one of his brothers. Within two years, he was invited to join the Rail Band. A popular, government-sponsored group that played regularly at the Buffet Hotel de la Gare, the Rail Band featured influential Malian guitar player Kante Manfila. Keita's soulful singing soon brought the band to a much higher plateau. In 1973 Keita joined the group, Les Ambassadeurs. Keita and Les Ambassadeurs fled political unrest in Mali during the mid-1970s for Abidjan, Ivory Coast and subsequently changed the group's name to "Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux".

In 1977, Keita received the prestigious National Order of Guinea from President Ahmed Sekou Toure. Encouraged to pursue a solo career, Keita moved to Paris in 1984. Settling in the city's Montreuil section, he found a thriving community of more than 15,000 transplanted Malians. Predictions of success proved true with the release of Keita's debut solo album, Soro, in 1987. Produced by Ibrahim Sylla, the album combined African, jazz, funk, Europop, and R&B influences.

Musical instruments that are commonly featured in Keita's work include balafons, djembes, guitars, koras, organs, saxophones, and synthesizers. In 1990, Keita contributed "Begin the Beguine" to the Cole Porter tribute/AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Blue, produced by the Red Hot Organization. Keita found success in Europe as one of the African stars of world music, but his work was sometimes criticised for the gloss of its production.

Keita continued his recording career with several releases for Mango throughout the '90s, including the Mansa of Mali anthology, before moving to Blue Note for Papa in 1999. Shortly after the turn of the Millennium he returned to Bamako in Mali to live and record. His first work after going home, 2002's Moffou was hailed as his best album in many years nd he received a Grammy nomination for the album. Keita was inspired to build a recording studio in Bamako, which he used for his album M'Bemba, released in October 2005.

Keita's album, La Différence, was produced around the end of 2009. The work is dedicated to the struggle of the world albino community (victims of human sacrifice), for which Keita has been crusading all his life. La Différence is unique in that for the first time Keita has clearly and boldly combined different melodic influences to produce a highly original musical feel. The album was recorded between Bamako, Beirut, Paris, and Los Angeles. The album won Keita one of the biggest musical awards of his career: the Best World Music 2010 at the Victoires de la musique.

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In the spring of 1973 Salif Keita left the Rail Band to join Les Ambassadeurs du Motel. About the move he states (in Florent Mazzoleni's "Salif Keita - La voix du Mandingue): "With the Rail Band I learned nothing, we only played what we heard. Les Ambassadeurs were more experienced: we weren't playing modernised folklore. Les Elephants Noirs* were intellectuals. Arriving at the group I signed an apprenticeship contract to study music. We really played all kinds of music. We were like a real family, I really felt more at ease with Les Ambassadeurs. We rehearsed and studied the songs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and played them the same evening."

So Les Ambassadeurs were sophisticated and 'hip',  leader of the hip team was Guinean guitarist Manfila Kanté, who had joined the orchestra a year before Salif, coming from Ivory Coast. He succeeded Malian sax player Moussa 'Vieux' Sissoko as chef d'orchestre. Among the other team members were Tagus Traoré (trumpet) from Guinea and singer Ousmane Dia, a Senegalese who had played with the legendary Star Band. But the majority came from Mali, with organist Idrissa Sumaoro (who will the subject of a future post), rhythm guitarist Amadou Bagayoko (of Amadou & Mariam fame), multi-instrumentalist (flute, balafon, violin) Keletigui Diabaté and singer Beidy Sacko.

Les Ambassadeurs Feat Salif Keita - African Classics (flac  429mb)

01 DJandjon 12:01
02 DJougouya 8:16
03 Kibaru 20:50
04 Bara Willile 8:04
05 Wara 8:43
06 Wassolon Foli 7:36
07 Mandjougoulon 6:44

Les Ambassadeurs Feat Salif Keita - African Classics  (ogg 144mb)

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From the Wrasse label comes this compilation of works featuring the great Mansa of Mali in his earlier days. The album essentially covers the years up to 1984, when Les Ambassadeurs broke up. The coverage is of the old Rail Band days with Mory Kante, the Ambassadeurs days (from Bamako and Abidjan) with Kante Manfila, and some of the early solo work from Salif Keita. The instrumental work is outstanding, as both of the bands of which Keita was a member were known for their musicality (as well as taking Mandingo music electric and mixing in some Cuban sounds). The highlight is, of course, Keita's powerful vocals, though at the time of some of these recordings, he still hadn't spent much time listening to American singers (Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Tina Turner are often cited as influences), so the sound isn't developed to the stage it was at later. If there is any problem to be had with the album, it's that the recording quality is at times mildly less than perfect (though still not too bad). The music is good, and Keita's singing exceptional.

Salif Keita - The Best Of The Early Years (flac 436mb)

01 Tiramakan 4:01
02 Djigui  8:08
03 Seydou Bathili 9:19
04 N'Toman 8:19
05 Soundiata 10:29
06 Soyomba 7:18
07 Kankoun 7:09
08 Super Coulou 8:34
09 Mandjou 12:42

Salif Keita - The Best Of The Early Years (ogg 178mb)

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How do you make a compilation of the early years of Salif Keita, one of Mali's golden voices, without his classic "Mandjou"? The answer is, you don't, and it's included on 1969-1980. The tracks mostly come from the latter half of the period, after he'd left the Super Rail Band and set up with les Ambassadeurs. Recorded in Abidjan and Washington, D.C., it's stirring stuff from one of the great, if underrated, African bands. Under the leadership of Kante Manfila, les Ambassadeurs had it all -- the swing and roots, and the jazz abilities equal to anybody, anywhere. But Keita's voice was the icing on the cake, as he proved again and again, not only on "Mandjou," but also tracks like "Mana-Mani" and "Sidiki." He might not have been born into a griot family, but his voice possessed all the magic of a griot, ranging easily from rough to silky, with a staggering emotional range that's amply demonstrated in these songs. If you only know Keita from his solo work -- some of which has been very patchy -- you owe it to yourself to go back and discover his excellent roots.

Salif Keita - 69.80   (flac  371mb)

01 Mana Mani 6:39
02 Mandjou 12:36
03 Primpin 8:26
04 Walé 10:01
05 4V 6:00
06 Sidiki 8:10
07 N'Toman 8:16
08 Marfa 7:16

Salif Keita - 69.80   (ogg 151mb)

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Dax said...

Thanks for all these posts. Really cool listening to music that I wouldn't come across normally.

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for the re-ups Rho!

Anonymous said...

Gello Rho!
There are some more I missed but for the while, would you please re-up:

Les Ambassadeurs Feat Salif Keita - African Classics flac
Salif Keita - The Best Of The Early Years flac
Salif Keita - 69.80 flac

Thanks in advance