The story of the Super Biton orchestra from Ségou has always been closely linked to that of the Biennales and its predecessor, the Semaines Nationales. The orchestra represented the Segou region in the category "orchestre moderne" at all the Semaines and Biennales (although a few times 'hors compétition'). I will come back to Biton's history in a later post.
But at the very last of the old style Biennales in 1988 Super Biton disappointed and came nowhere near winning. Band members sought excuses and blaimed the lack of investment in equipment and instruments. The general opinion of the public attending the concert at the Cinéma Rex in Bamako was that Biton had exaggerated the flattery. Too much "Président Moussa Traoré is a great guy".
Personally I think it was the absence of Amadou 'Armstrong' Bah, who had retired as 'chef d'orchestre' after the European tour of 1987. He was the invariable quantity in the history of Biton.
Biton released their last cassette (which they recorded in Abidjan) at the same Biennale. Although enjoyable, it's certainly not their best.
EDIT April 12, 2015: The link has been updated.
Zulu violin dance from the mountains
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