March 16, 2011

Balla n'est plus

Off topic: you may have wondered why I haven't been posting as much as before. There are several reasons for this, but the most important two are my discovery that a lot of my original CD's were beginning to disintegrate and - in the last two weeks, and possibly related - a crash of the system hard disk of the computer I use for blogging and music. Both are fortunately under control, - although there is still a lot of work to be done in backing up CD's. But I am hopeful I can increase the frequency of these posts.


Balla Onivogui(l) and Pivi Moriba, December 1999 (photo R. Lokin)
Unfortunately, this is another very sad post. Because I was informed today that Balla Onivogui has died yesterday, March 15, at the age of 75* after suffering a heart attack.

Balla was best known as leader of the wonderful Guinean orhestra from the Syliphone era Balla et ses Balladins. Born in Macenta, he started his career as a musician in Kankan and subsequently was sent to the Dakar conservatoire (musical college) on a scholarship. In 1959 he joined the Syli Orchestre National, where his talent, not just as a trumpet player, but also a leader, caught the eye of the authorities of the young republic. When the Syli orchestre was split up, he was put in charge of one of the sections. This section played at the Jardin de Guinée, a bar dancing, which I am told exists until this day.
As their reputation grew they took on a more independent name: Balla et ses Balladins.

I am sure you will read more detailed information about this great orchestra and its leader on other sites (for example here).

For now I would like to share with you Balla's first album, with the Orchestre du Jardin de Guinée. This was released as the second album of the Syliphone label, and has for many, many years been one of my top favourites of the label. Every single track on this album is a pearl, shining by the pure joy and love of music of Balla, Pivi and all the individuals of this superb orchestra.

To me, Balla Onivogui has reached a rare state of eternity. Through his music he will live on forever....

Syliphone SLP 2 or here

May his soul rest in peace.

* There are sources stating he was born in 1938. Several Guinean sources claim that he was 75 when he died yesterday.

13 comments:

bolingo69 said...

Great to see you back! Sad that the news are not of the joyous category and Sorry to here that there are so many hardships! Hard disk crashes we have to live with and I had a One Terabyte disc failing on me last week also controllable damage but about the deteriorating CD's that sounds worse! Are there any special labels afflicted or is it random. If you see any system or discover any pattern I would be happy to know. Better yet a few random names of the failing CD's titles would allow me to check if I have similar problems. I never play the CD's since I rip them and play the rips so I wold not know! Are the ones congolese music ones? Sonodisc? If you have the time to mention a few I can check if I have the same and among us maybe I have a good copy where you have a bad one. Are the failing ones commercially produced or are they mostly homespun? Any how Stefan it is good to see you back. Hope it all clears up!

Rider said...

Thanks for yet another masterpiece. I only hope that you will be able to recover the data on time. The music blogosphere is not the same without your masterpieces and deep insight.

Ed

reservatory said...
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reservatory said...
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reservatory said...

I'm so very sorry to hear the news about Balla, a constant source of beauty and adventure for me these past fifteen years or so. I'll never forget the first time I heard Assa, on some compilation CD I'd checked out of the local library, as I began looking into African popular music for the first time. In an instant, Balla and his Syliphone comrades became a personal obsession. As a long-time record collector, it was sobering to come across such an amazing body of work that I felt I had no real chance of ever hearing. THANKS to you and so many other internet explorers who stepped in to rescue a whole world of sound from the dust bin of history. Rest in peace, Balla. Your work lives on.

Radio Africa said...

Balla told me that he was born in 1938, so that is definitive. Very sad to learn the news. His orchestra continues, by the way, and consists of young musicians being trained by band members from the 1970s.

Radio Africa said...

I have put up a small biography of Balla's life at my web site - http://www.radioafrica.com.au/.
The text is from the CD "Balla et ses Balladins. The Syliphone years".
Graeme

WrldServ said...

@Radio Africa: I agree: there is nothing like the horse's mouth. If Balla himself told you he was born in 1938, then he was born in 1938.

Good to see the biography on your site (link on the left of this blog), by the way.

@bolingo69: A certain generation of Sonodiscs (mid 1990s) seems to suffer from degradation more than others. But generally the phenomenon seems very random, - which does not make things easier.
I am only concerned about the original (i.e. commercial) CD's, not about the home-baked copies. I have from the very beginning backed up all of those, as I found out straight away that failure with those was a 'feature' rather than an incident.
So far, I have been able (partly with the help of an older generation Plextor dvd-burner) to rip all failing CD's, - although in one case ripping took over 8 hours....

Kostas from Greece said...

I'm so very sorry to hear the bad news about Balla,what a wonderful artist!
Hope you are good and you will continue to share with is all this awesome music...
Many thanks!!!

Kabaka Mwanga LXVII said...

My two favorite people in Guinea. Balla & Pivi.
RIP Balla you've brought joy to countless people around the world.

Wrldsrv great to see you around. Happy Spring

david said...

Sad news, thanks for sharing this information. Balla will be missed and we're glad you're back! Balla and the Balladins "objectif Perfection', is just that.Some of the best music from Guinea and all of africa......this one is great too.

Anonymous said...

wow--thank you

tentembademba said...

r.i.p balla onivogui ainsi que tous les autres membres fondateurs de l'orchestre balla et ses balladins(pivi, sekou docteur, manfila soba,etc).monsieur worldservice aviez vous syliphone 47 de balla et ses balladins si oui pouviez vous le poster .merci d'avance