Photo ©Ed Alcock
If you’re one of those individuals that enjoys traditional sounds, then here’s your opportunity. Kaouding Cissoko’s solo debut Kora Revolution focuses on the versatility of the performer and the full spectrum of the majestic of the ancient twenty-one string harp-lute.
The kora is built from a large calabash cut in half and covered with cow skin to make a resonator, and has a notched bridge. Although the sound resembles that of the harp, there’s no comparison in western music.
Traditionally, kora players originated – who were known as Jali’s – from the Mandika nationalities. Kora music is based on oral tradition, which would explained that most players were historians, genealogists and storytellers who passed their skills on to their descendents.
The instrument is played in Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali and the Gambia.
The Mandinka, Malinke (also known as Mandinko) are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa with an estimated population of eleven million.
They are the descendants of the Mali Empire, which rose to power under the rule of the great Mandinka king Sundiata Keita. The Mandinka in turn belong to West Africa’s largest ethnolinguistic group, the Mandé, who account for more than twenty million people (including the Dyula, Bozo, Bissa and Bambara)
As a key member of Baaba Maal’s band, Cissoko emerged as one of the most renowned kora musicians in all of Senegal. In the album, Cissoko expands the kora’s range and blends Latin and jazz elements with traditional West African music. His family backs him on most of the album’s tracks, playing djembe, tama, balafon and acoustic bass and guitar. They also contribute vocals, as does Maal, making Kora Revolution as much a celebration of tradition, family and friends as it is an exploration of contemporary African music.
There are several days that I just have this on rewind from morning till night as its rhythms and sounds offer a soothing retreat from the days many lessons, struggles and mind tricks. This is special favourite of DJ Samba Sim’s archival collection so I encourage one and all to have a listen.