It appears the "hectic pre-Christmas weeks" I wrote about in my last post were even more hectic than I expected. And especially so, when an upgrade (to Windows 7) which I - naively perhaps - thought I would perform in one day, turned out to be a time-consuming and obstacle-ridden nightmare, and one which (given the limited amount of spare time and energy in these "hectic pre-Christmas weeks") lasted just under two weeks....
Anyway. It's all working now (<knocking on wood like an idiot>), so let's get on with it.
Although the Super Djata Band (see earlier posts) has covered songs from other artists (for example Coumba Sidibé's "Yamba", Abdoulaye Diabaté's "Massa Djourou" and Bazoumana Sissoko's "Yiriba") most of their songs are based on traditionals from the Sikasso region.
The track "Batila" (which on a later album was misinterpreted as "Bandjila"), for example, is based on a song performed by an uncle of Alou Fané. This uncle lived in a village about 70 kilometres from Sikasso where he was a regionally renowned balafon player, with links to the local komo circle.
In the case of "Sisse Na Djolo" a connection on a personal level too is at the basis of the selection. The song was composed by Na Hawa Doumbia and had been interpreted by her at the Biennale a few years before. She and her husband N'Gou were good friends of Daouda 'Flani' Sangaré and - like Flani's eldest son - living in Bougouni.
Of the two other songs on this album, which was released in the early 1980s (1982, according to Graeme on RadioAfrica) in Abidjan, "Nama Djidja" is in the typical Djata Band style, with lyrical references to several donso ngoni classics. Note the part where Flani names the musicians and the percussionists respond with a small solo.
It's the first song of this album that has caused some controversy. Some of you may recognise "Fongnana Kouma" from the version by National Badema with that great singer Kassemady Diabaté (and if you don't know this, please let me know and I'll be glad to post it later). Although it may not sound like a track from the Djata Band repertoire, both Flani and Zani Diabaté have assured me it is. Similar claims have, however, been made by members of the former Badema.
Personally I have fond memories of this song. The first time I heard it was sleeping in a hotel in the centre of Bamako. I had some difficulty sleeping after I had spent the whole afternoon searching for Flani, who I later heard had travelled to Abidjan. Through the noise of the traffic (which also contributed to my insomnia) I kept on hearing the same Flani singing this wonderful, haunting song. In my semi-conscious state it seemed like the song went on for ever, but after a few hours it dawned on me they were repeating the cassette. So I decided to record it (this recording can be found here).
As before I have two versions of this lp, a cassette version (which I bought a few days later in Bamako) and a copy of the lp (which I copied years later). The cassette version of "Nama Djidja" is (for reasons only known to the producer of this cassette) shortened by almost a minute.
Musique Mondiale MAD 003 (cassette)
Musique Mondiale MAD 003 (lp)
And to give you another idea of the quality of the Djata Band, here is another track of their 1984 concert in Angoulême, France. I just love the dancing in this track. If you look closely you'll notice the little idiosyncrasies which distinguish Flani's and Alou Fané's dancing....
The balafon player, by the way, is Zani's late brother Bakari.
Liner Notes: Episode 6: Congolese Divas
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