"El Gran Ballake started in music in 1967 at the age of 18 with the renowned Jazz de Sissoko orchestra in Acart-ville (Upper Volta). After one year with this orchestra I subsequently changed, and started again with Echo d'El Africa* from Bobo-Dioulasso, and this was in 1968.
And already from that time people got an idea of my success in music, for all I did was following musicians around and reworking their songs. On the other hand my parents were against it at all times; and at the end of the day (?), they gave in, for they realised it was my destiny that guided me on. I loved music to such a point that I started doing research on my own, and often, it even happened that I disappeared into the brousse so I wouldn't be bothered by others from my profession. And at the time the orchestra which accompanied me consisted of some very intelligent and talented young people.
So with Echo d'El Africa I released 6 (45 rpms) and 1 (33 rpms) titled "Récite historique de Bobo-Dioulaso" and I remained always the number 1 animateur of this orchestra. At present the orchestra which is accompanying me on my latest lp is Super Saman.
I hope the public will listen to the latest lp a lot.
The international Diarra Youssouf El Grand Ballake, a.k.a. the Dragon of African song, accompanied by the Tout-Puissant Super Saman."
Call me a fool, but after such sleeve notes I can't wait to hear the music. And luckily Youssouf Diarra does not disappoint me. This is a very enjoyable lp in the Malinke style which we know from many Guinean and Malian orchestras. Super Saman misses a horn section, but manages to compensate for this by the freshness and enthusiasm of their guitar section. 'El Grand Ballaké' has nowhere near the vocal presence of Amadou Traoré dit Ballaké, but then, who has? It is really a pity that by the choice of his nickname he has pitted himself against an artist of another, higher league.
So forget about the Ballaké bit and listen to this great album, - which by the way is another great find by our friend Faas!
Shakara music SHA 004
*i.e. Echo del Africa National, an album which I hope to post very soon.