Mali has long been revelled for its music and it does produce some of African’s most glorious and complex. The main musical influence comes from the Mande people, who make up half of the population and are spread throughout a large proportion of West Africa, from Senegal to Ghana.
There is a oral tradition in Mali, known as Griot, where musicians, or other oral historians such as a writers and poets, are responsible for preserving, as well as, passing on history and documenting current events. The role is an important one in society, with the tradition often being kept within the family, and passed down from father to son. The Mande people produced some of the best known music incorporating traditional African instruments, such as the Kora and the Balfon, into popular music.
Today’s selection is from two musicians that remarkably only collaborated once on an album in the mid-eighties. Mamadi Diabaté was a Malian singer and guitarist, who initially worked as a tailor in Bamako, before embarking on a short music career, recording only two albums. The later of these two albums was made with Manfila Kanté, the legendary Guinean guitarist, who formed Les Ambassadeurs, who were later joined by Salif Keita, the Rail Band vocalist. Quite a musical pedigree!
I would die a happy man listening to Kanté’s guitar on Iye Iye; I just don’t want the break to ever end. This is certainly heavenly stuff, and with Diabaté’s vocals it becomes a spiritual experience.
If you are not moved by this you probably have no soul!
Mamadi Diabaté et les Ambassadeurs – A Pas de Géant (1985) – Kaba Disques (KAB 8201)