In a culture where tradition, or the passing on of skills, an art or customs from one generation to the next, is almost part of the genetic material of the people, it is not rare to see a son following in the footsteps of his father. In Mali there are loads of examples of musical sons or daughters of famous musical fathers and/or mothers. This post is about one of these: Lamissa Bengaly No.2.
His father, Lamissa Bengaly (who would have guessed it..) is revered in Mali as one of the pilars (and in Mali it is more likely that they would call him a "great tree" - or "yiriba") of Malian culture. But I doubt that many Malians even understand a word of his lyrics, because Lamissa sang in minianka. Nevertheless his influence was strong, although perhaps more as a promotor of the balafon music of the Sikasso region in general and the animistic minianka culture of eastern Mali in particular. Born in a village in the Nkourala cercle not far from the town of Sikasso, Lamissa has had a great influence too on the singing style of bala music. You can find one of his (unfortunately rare) cassettes on the Wassoulou blog. And here three tracks on an even rarer lp* with a selection of Malian music. These tracks are not credited to Lamissa on the lp, but Daouda Sangaré, who grew up listening to Lamissa's music assured me it was him.
Lamissa Bengaly on the lp "Musique du Mali"
But, as I mentioned before, this post is about his son, and about his music. It is surprising, however, how little information there is about Lamissa No.2. I have been told that he mainly sings in bambara, and not in minianka; and although I suspect this is right, I can't actually confirm this. Maybe this is the reason that he is never mentioned as his father's heir....
This cassette, released in 1998, can compete with the best. The emphasis in this cassette is more on the singing than on the bala, although the bala is very nice. The rhythms are slower than for example Molobaly Keita and Neba Solo, and this sets off the vocals even more. This is a cassette that has grown on me, - but I have had to listen to it for quite a few times before it did.
Lamissa Bengaly No.2 (cassette Sory Labita, 1998)
I would like to round off this 'week' of bala music with a video, posted by Ngoniba, of the legendary Lamissa Bengaly (the father, that is).
PS: and this doesn't mean there won't be more bala music coming in this blog...
* I am still trying to dig up the rest of this lp. I'm sure I have it - somewhere....
Nkengas in London
45 minutes ago