Today still more from Mali, after all it has one of the most intensely musical cultures in all Africa. Today's artist " has a knack of finding great partners. Some might consider it too easy on the ears, not wild enough after all aren't Africans supposed to beat the drum? Well no, and under the stars music can become magical, that is if you have the right instruments and skill to use them, he showed those on Jules Holland's Later Live last week, and because most of you likely missed that here's your chance to ......N'joy
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Ballake Sissoko is the son of Jelimady Sissoko, grand master of the Manding kora, a harp with twenty-one strings whose crystalline sound has won over audiences world-wide. With his 'big brother' Toumani Diabate, the son of Sidiki Diabate, another illustrious figure of the jeli (oral historians and musicians) tradition, Ballake is considered one of the best kora players of the new generation. He first learned the instrument very early on at his father's school. At the age of 14, he replaced his father in the Ensemble Instrumental National and by the late eighties he was also playing in the electric bands of the most famous jelimuso.
He remembers the difficulty of initially playing with virtuoso guitar players like Bouba Sacko and Jeli Madi Tounkara, who had picked up the techniques of the ngoni but also used western scales and rock riffs. Rising to the challenge, he was the first local kora player to master western modes and still provide the rhythmic structure to accompany the dance steps of the singers. Simultaneously following different melodic lines with his thumbs and index fingers, Jeli Moussa's playing combines a bass accompaniment, the harmonic progressions of the rhythm guitar and intricate solo improvisations. Jeli Moussa works regularly with Kandia Kouyate, and together they toured the USA, Europe and Australia.
After performing with the prestigious Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali, and accompanying many Malian singers, he came to fame by performing solo or in duet with Toumani Diabate, Taj Mahal and a host of other musicians. In the 1980s, Malian kora music was once more revolutionized when Jeli Moussa Sissoko (called Ballake Sissoko) and Toumani Diabate, the sons of Jeli Madi Sissoko and Sidiki Diabate, introduced chord progressions played on the guitar into their father's repertoire.
Open to every new adventure and encounter, Ballake Sissoko is a gifted instrumentalist who, inspired by tradition, was able to forge a personal style. A visionary figure and fine melodist, he is an excellent accompanist and superb composer.
On Ballake: kora Music From Mali, Ballake is sorrounded by young musicians, friends and fellows met in various ways in Bamako, and his wife, the singer Mama Draba. Fassery Diabate, son of Keletigui Diabate, bala (West African xylophone) expert and well-known performer of Malian music, freed himself too, of tradition, while still respecting its spirit.
Extremely brilliant, he never falls into just technical proficiency, but exhibits astonishing maturity, Adama Tounkara is Jelimady Tounkara's nephew, the 'guitar hero' of Mali music, respected conductor of the Mali's Super Rail Band. He's one of those many young artists who have specialized in the study of the ngoni, a small, four-stringed traditional lute dating back to the 12th century (like the bala), and which was once played at the court of Sundiata Keita, founder of the Manding Empire. It is no doubt the ancestor of the banjo and is part and parcel of the colorful sound of traditional and modern Mali music. A difficult instrument, but one which Adama Tounkara perfectly masters. Hearing this very young virtuoso, you are immediately struck by the finesse of his playing sound and phrasing and the subtle swing of his very jazzy inventions.
The youngest of the group, Aboubacar Sidiki Dembele, provides solid back-up on the bolon, ancestor of the acoustic bass, and indispensable instrument for any respectable Manding group. Mama Draba, younger and less well-known abroad than her compatriots Kandia Kouyate, Amy Koita or Oumou Sangare, is still one of the greatest singers of the new Manding music. With her deep, powerful voice and impeccable phrasing, she's one of the great performers of the epic jeli-style Bambara and Malinke traditions. In 2013, Sissoko released ‘At Peace’ on Six Degrees Records. Sissoko describes it as a continuation of the work he did with cellist Vincent Segal in his previous critically acclaimed album, Chamber Music. “I didn’t want to do Chamber Music all over again,” says Sissoko, “I wanted to work on its continuation.” Vincent Segal participates again.
Segal provided his talent as a musical director to work on ‘At Peace’, using an intimate setting. Only the most essential tools were used, avoiding unnecessary production tricks & overdubs. The goal was to achieve spontaneity, and priority was given to first takes. The word “peace” included in the title of the record is not used casually or just as some rhetorical tool. “When I want to play with someone,” adds Sissoko, “I first have to understand the way he works; I have to build a friendship. That’s my first reference point and it takes time to get there.”
‘At Peace’ was recorded in Angouleme (in Western France) in the studio of jazz bass player Kent Carter. It gathers Sissoko’s long time trusted musical companions. In addition to Vincent Segal, the album also features Aboubacar “Badian” Diabaté on twelve string guitar, Moussa Diabaté on the six string guitar and Fasséry Diabaté on the bala (balafon). “I wanted for people to hear musicians in the process of discovery, musicians who sometimes were surprised by what they are playing,” says Sissoko.
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Back in the early '70s, a recording by kora masters Sidiki Diabate and Djelimadi Sissoko called Cordes Anciennes first brought this rich acoustic music of Mali to the world. More than 20 years later, their sons, Toumani Diabate and Ballake Sissoko, have come together to pay tribute to their fathers with 1999's New Ancient Strings. Together Diabate and Sissoko explore their fathers' roots while traveling their own new routes.
Toumani Diabate is one of the finest contemporary kora players. Diabate teams with Ballake Sissoko for New Ancient Strings, a collection of African harp duets. This album was recorded on a 22nd of September, Mali's Independence Day, recorded live at the Palais de Congres in Bamako, Mali. The marble hall lends that "palace of ancient kings" sound and this is a live album, recorded in one take, which always lends a sense of intimacy and reality to any recording.album, New Ancient Strings is at once ethereal and earthy. The melodies have been passed down from the rich traditions of Malian music and are newly interpreted here, it's a completely instrumental collection of traditional Malian melodies and rhythms. Most of the tunes go back to the eighteenth century. They will not be well known to the listener outside West Africa but the interpretations by Toumani & Ballake make them easily accessible to the unaccustomed ear. The virtuosity of the players enables the music to flow in beautiful rhythms and brings out emotional depth as well as playful harmonies.
Ballake Sissoko & Toumani Diabate - New Ancient Strings (flac 262mb)
01 Bi Lambam 5:00
02 Salaman 6:14
03 Kita Kaira 9:03
04 Bafoulabe 6:26
05 Cheikhna Demba 4:30
06 Kora Bali 9:07
07 Kadiatou 7:49
08 Yamfa 5:11
Ballake Sissoko & Toumani Diabate - New Ancient Strings (ogg 140mb)
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Mali Diary (Diario Mali) is a studio recording of duets between the highly successful Italian classical-crossover pianist, Ludovico Einaudi, and Mali musician Ballake Sissoko - one of the most gifted ‘kora’ players in Africa. This unexpected collaboration was recorded in February 2003, less than a month after they had appeared together at the now famous Festival in the Desert. At this time, Einaudi was just beginning his breakthrough to a much wider UK public. His “Echoes” Best-of collection was released in the September of that year and early in 2004, he had a track featured on Buddha Bar vol.6 - a sure sign of musical ‘lifestyle chic’.
Dismissed by large sections of the classical media, his accessible, melodic minimalism - compared by some to Philip Glass and Michael Nyman - has undeniably produced music of wide appeal, and championed by Classic FM in particular, the 8 CDs he has so far issued in the UK have all achieved substantial sales. Born in 1955, Einaudi was awarded a diploma in composition at the Milan Conservatory, and continued his studies with Luciano Berio. He has also composed chamber and orchestral compositions, music for dance and the stage, and film soundtracks, as well as a variety of multimedia works.
The very softly played, largely improvised melodies are based on Malian musical phrases, European and Caribbean elements, and a touch of American blues. The musicians weave their notes, but as the kora is shallow in intensity compared to the piano, it is Einaudi who dominates and Sissoko who adds timbre flavor to the pieces. The ten tracks comprise 68 minutes. No works stands out, but the consistent tone offers tranquility and peace of mind.
Ballaké Sissoko & Ludovico Einaudi - Diario Mali (flac 271mb)
01 Laissez Moi en Paix 4:02
02 Entre Nous 9:32
03 Soutoukou 7:17
04 Chanson D'amour 8:11
05 Chameaux 5:04
06 Ma Mere 6:03
07 A L'ombre 8:24
08 Niger Blues 5:38
09 Mali Sajio 8:00
10 Dessert Dans Le Desert 5:49
Ballaké Sissoko & Ludovico Einaudi - Diario Mali (ogg 146mb)
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Ballake Sissoko is a master musician on the 21 stringed harp like instument the kora. And with just that instrument, the African precursor to the banjo called the ngoni, the marimba-like balafon, and very occasional voice and drums, he and his men make some of the most beautiful and arresting music. The music is rhythmically complex due to the short decay time and percussive nature of the sound these instruments make, in other words there are a lot of notes and a lot of groove. But the music is also melodically beautiful and sophisticated. Melodies intertwine with one another as each instrument takes a turn in the spotlight much like jazz, at other times in the ensemble sections sounding almost like flamenco guitars. The ballad Berekolan for lone Kora sounds almost harpsichord-like but has a more rounded and sonorous tone. This is some beautiful music, quiet yet very powerful.
Mali has given birth to any number of expert kora players and Djelimoussa Ballaké Sissoko is one of them. Diabaté is only making a guest appearance. After “Kanou” is finished, he’s gone. On the rest of the album Sissoko is accompanied by a group of his own called the Ballaké Sissoko Trio. The Trio consists of Sissoko on the kora, Mahamadou Kamissoko on the long, camel-coloured n’goni lute, and Fassély Diabate on the wooden balafon xylophone. Sissoko is listed as the composer of every song, bar one, but he’s not an attention hog. The balafon gets plenty of leeway. Every time Fassély hits a bar it issues a hollow liquid chuckle, the sound of creek water running over stones. Sissoko uses this balafon as he and Toumani used one another’s koras —as a counterpoint, as a contrast, as a Mande new-roots version of a jazz accompaniment.
Of the ten tracks on the album, seven are purely instrumental, two are sung by Barry, and the tenth is complemented by the voice of Rokia Traoré. This is “Nimân Don” and it’s her own work. “Nimân Don” is the only song not credited to Sissoko. The kora and balafon set the scene for her with a tripping beat, and she steps in, lilting. Her voice flutters, she sounds a little husky, she pauses and the kora flickers in the gaps between one word and the next. The song has her usual dryness, the same dryness you can hear on her albums. “Nimân Don” is restrained in comparison with “Hanarezo” and “Berekoy”. Traoré‘s song uses the sound of the instruments as a framing device or backdrop behind and around her voice, while in the other two songs the voice and the instruments roll together as equal partners in the same thick stew. Tomora is a soothing break from sensory overload, there to remind us how beautiful music can be.
Ballake Sissoko - Tomora (flac 278mb)
01 Tomora 4:43
02 Yaro (feat. Demba Camara) 3:29
03 Handarezo (ft. Barry, Camara, Diawara & Vattara) 5:20
04 Kanou (feat. T Diabaté) 5:10
05 Sy 5:16
06 Berekoy (ft Barry, Camara, Diawara & Vattara) 4:50
07 Berekôlan 5:17
08 Ni mân don (feat. Demba Camara & Rokia Traoré) 5:40
09 Koungo 4:55
10 Lasidan 4:08
Ballake Sissoko - Tomora (ogg 128mb)
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