Showing posts with label guinea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guinea. Show all posts

November 01, 2012

Some updates

A few updates on earlier posts.

You may remember those great videos by that majestic Malian diva Kandia Kouyaté (here, here and here). When I met her in Bamako last year Lucy Duran pointed out to me that it was unlikely, if not completely incorrect, that Kandia was 18 when these videos were recorded. I told her I was inclined to agree with her but was hesitant to correct this, as the 'grand dame' herself was the source of this information. She had told me this when I interviewed her in 1990 (photo - by the great Ton Verhees - on the right). Lucy has since reminded me in an email. She wrote: "Mali TV opened in 1983 and Kandia was born in 1958. I first met her in 1986 which is around the time that she did songs like Moussolou. Bouba Sacko only joined her group in 1985, before that she had a 12 string guitarist from Kita called Kissima Diabate who was living in Abidjan, and with whom she recorded Amary Daou présente Kandia Kouyate. So Actually Kandia will have been around 27 or 28 when she filmed those clips. The presenter was Zoumana Yoro Traoré and the programme was probably 'Artiste et sa musique'."

Then some updates from Guinea.
Graeme Counsel (website!!) is in Conakry at the moment continuing his work digitising and preserving the archives of the RTG. He has tumbled upon the original reel containing the first track of side B of that superb album "Boum à Conakry". According to the notes and label of the album this is a track called "El Checheré" by the Orchestre de la Paillote. It turns out that this information is incorrect. In fact the song is by l'Orchestre Honoré Coppet, and was recorded either on February 2 or March 24, 1963 at the Bonne Auberge by a certain Katty using a Nagra III reel-to-reel recorder! And this "Katty", Graeme adds, is probably Emmanuel Kathy, a director of the Voix de la Révolution studios.
Honoré Coppet was born in Martinique and traveled to Senegal and Guinea in the late 1950s. He played alto saxophone in the Syli Orchestre Nationale.

And yesterday he reported that he has found a reel containing recordings by that amazing accordeon player Petit Moussa (you may remember the mind boggling cassette sleeve). Apparently the man is called Moussa Diawara. Graeme has added a photo of this amazing find. Let's hope (or if you like you may pray) that these recordings are as spectacular as the ones on the cassette!

That's all for now. More music to follow soon.

August 25, 2012

More mayonnaise

A short post, to be followed by another one very soon. It is just that I have a craving for some solid vocals. And in that respect Mory Djeli 'Deen' Kouyaté will always deliver.

You may remember the cassettes and recordings of this star from Guinea I shared earlier (here and here). If so I am sure you also remember the weak spot in his cassettes: the accompagnement. And this cassette, which again appears to have been recorded in some Parisian studio, unfortunately has the same flaw.
Despite the arrangements by Jean-Philippe Rykiel, Mory Djeli again manages to survive all the attempts to drown him in 'la mayonnaise musicale' originating from the interventions of Rykiel.

Again, if you can mentally block out the superfluous synthesiser (and I know this is not easy!), this cassette is quite enjoyable. Mory Djeli is a great singer, but should - in my opinion - get rid of this Rykiel who is ruining perfectly good, classic songs like "Nanfoule" (yes another version), "Wara", "Moriba Kaba" (a notable victim of Rykiel destructive arrangements) and "Djeliya" (please don't compare this to Tata Bambo's version...).
What a voice....

CK 447

February 06, 2012


I've been cut off from the internet for a few days. Nothing to do with the copyright mobsters; I suppose it was just my internet provider's way of reacting to the cold spell we are experiencing here in the low countries.

So there is some catching up to do.

What better way to do so than to jump in at the deep end.
In this case into the music of the Fulani or Pular of the Foutah Djallon (or Fuuta Jaloo) in Guinée. This is one of those cassettes of which one suspects the (real) owner of the copyright has long forgotten about its existence. No cover, no details about the circumstances in which the recordings were made, the titles a mess*. So lots to fantasise, plenty to fill in....

The name on the cassette is "Farbatela", but I suppose this must be "Farba Téla". This is a qualification rather than a name. "Farba", according to Justin Morel, is a top ranking griot (or gawlo) in the Fouta, while "téla" means what it sounds like in english: "tailor". It is also the nickname of a singer and player of the kérôna (a type of lute, - examples of which can be heard here).
The names of the musicians are mentioned in the first song of the cassette, after about two minutes. My familiarity with the language is insufficient to deduce the full names, but there are one or two members of the Sow family, a Dabola and two Barry's, one of which - Mamadou - may very well be the same as the Mamadou Barry playing in the fourth track of the CD "Les Nyamakala du Fouta Djallon" (still available). In fact, it is possible that this is in essence the same group as the one playing in that track.

Except that in this cassette they are playing the rough version.
Because I think I should add a word of warning: this music is right on the very edge.

The singer with a voice that could cut through steel, a brilliant but unstoppable (electric) guitarist and an instrument which could very well be a modern version of the kérôna I mentioned before creating a rhythmic wall to lean against.

My current favourite on this cassette is "Diari", but this is one of those cassettes that will last you a lifetime.

cassette 7455 (1987)

* It has taken me years to fit the titles with the songs, as they appeared to be in a random order. I am still missing one...

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.

February 20, 2011

Four mysteries

I am hoping someone can shed some light on these four mystery tracks.

The mystery is not in who is singing. The singer is clearly and recognisably the great Aboubacar Demba Camara. This limits the options when it comes to the orchestra accompanying the man: it is either the Syli Orchestre National or Bembeya Jazz.
My guess would be the latter, but both is also a possibility (with the first two songs by Syli National and the last two by Bembeya) .

The mystery lies mainly in the origin of these recordings. I have so far been unable to trace when, where and by whom they were made. And the titles are just guesswork, because they were missing on the source cassette (In fact, there was nothing at all on the cassette to indicate its content).

By the inclusion of the two Cuban (or at least latin) songs I am inclined to date these recordings shortly after Demba's trip to Cuba. He went there, as he told in an interview with the R.T.G., in December 1965 and met Cuban legend Abelardo Barroso. This must have inspired him to do some more Cuban songs....

So please feel free to speculate. And if you have some expert knowledge, please step forward!

4 songs from the sixties

EDIT February 21, 2011: Although all four tracks are from the same cassette, the last two appear to be a bit fast. I am adding two attempts at correcting this. Please let me know which one you think is correct.
The corrections are all in this file (new link May 28, 2011).

December 29, 2010


I am finally getting 'round to posting this album. The reason for the delay is not in the lp itself, but in the video that goes with it. I have struggling to get the sound at least acceptable. Although I don't think I have succeeded I doubt I can do more to get it right. Besides, the exceptional quality of the sound of the lp should help to balance matters....

The lp is by the Super Boiro Band, and was released on the Syliphone label in Guinea, which in any case is a guarantee for a superior quality of music - and sound. The name "Boiro" was rapidly changed after the death of Sékou Touré and the fall of the Syli regime, as it carried associations to the infamous prison camp, Camp Boiro, in which a staggering estimate of fifty thousand (mainly political) prisoners were said to have died. The Super Boiro Band changed its name into Super Flambeau (flambeau = torch).
And in my opinion this is a far more suitable name given the both fiery and glowing nature of their music, - as is demonstrated especially by this record.

Justin Morel Junior mentions in his sleeve notes that the musicians of the orchestra 'pulled their act together' after visiting the "Semaine National de solfégétisation" in Conakry in 1974. My (rather aged) dictionary has no entry for "solfégétisation", but "solfège" has something to do with singing techniques, so I assume they did some vocal training. This certainly did no harm to their vocal harmonies, which are great on this lp.

But nevertheless I am more impressed by their instrumental skills. Particularly the organ on this lp is on a level of its own. Starting at 5'15 in the first track "Somono" the organist is the true master of these recordings. Highlights of his performance are the - in my opinion epic - version of "Nanibaly", in which I can picture him swaying behind his instrument, before making his dramatically restrained entrance after 3'14. The classic "Samba" is an instrumental tribute to the instrumental talents of the whole Boiro Band, again dominated by the organ.

But there is more to this record. There are 'cool' tunes, like the supercool "Gumbe". There is joy in "Sakonke" ("cuisinées à plus que 100°C"), encouragement in "Khamulan Na", and of course the usual flattery (albeit somewhat obligatory sounding!) of the P.D.G. in "Barika".

Judging by the few tracks I have heard of their work of the post-Syli era, I get the impression that the Super Flambeau managed to retain the high level they show on this wonderful album on the ever great Syliphone label. I for one would certainly like more of this.....

Syliphone SLP 58

As a bonus, and with my sincerest apologies for the crappy sound, here is a video of the song "Sakonke":

November 06, 2010


Let me begin by apologising: this is probably the worst cassette of the Horoya Band I have. The sound is somewhere between medium wave and shortwave radio, including some of the wave effects.

But the music...

The bootlegger responsible for this cassette, which was bought in Guinea in 1988, has made a few minor errors (nothing compared to what some of the 'reputable' European producers have conjured up) in writing down the titles, because the first track is clearly "Sasilon", which can be found on Discothèque 74 (SLP 48). But the title of the second track is not "Keme Bourema", but "Wara" (lion). And this is one of these rare tracks that will last you a lifetime. Even after over twenty years this brilliant interpretation of this malinké classic by this exceptional orchestra from Kankan still manages to grab me straight by the throat, right from that majestic beginning to the tragically sudden fade-out, after nearly twelve minutes of pure bliss. I particularly would like to draw your attention to the exemplary rhythm guitar playing.
And it doesn't stop there.

The B-side opens with another classic: "Baninde" (child of the Bani river). Another proof that the border between Guinea and Mali is not a cultural border, because this is a song from the repertoire of the griots of Kela, and more specifically a song generally associated with the legendary Siramori Diabaté. Judging by the fact Horoya also covered her "Kanimba", this can't be a coincidence.
You have to fill in the sound of the fantastic horn section from memory*, but this is certainly one of my favourite versions of "Baninde", and certainly more 'majestic' than the mid-tempo(but also great!) version by Les Messagers.

The second track, "Famadenke", is another malinké classic. The link to Sékou Touré is even more apparent in this song, as it is an ode to Samory Touré's son. This site (or English) not only gives an explanation of the song, but also a translation.

The last track again features on one of the Syliphone collections, in this case Discothèque 75 (SLP 49). Going by the overall sound I think all of the tracks of this cassettes are roughly from the same period (the mid-1970s). And this brings me to the main mystery behind this cassette: what happened to the three tracks (i.e. "Wara", "Baninde" and "Famadenke")? Why were these brilliant songs never released on the Syliphone label?

GD 7051 cassette

* for those with a sudden attack of memory loss, and those who have erroneously purchased the Syllart re-editions, here are "Sasilon" and "Artistes" from SLP 48 and SLP 49.

September 06, 2010


I don't know about you but I am in need of an energy boost. Here in the Netherlands the nation is on the verge of slipping into the doldrums, and I suspect it is pretty much the same where you live.

I have found over the years that in these situations it is best to draw inspiration from those musical classics of the Syliphone label. Personally I already get a good kick up the backside from reading the inspirational sleeve notes of Justin Morel Junior. Great reading! "Le souvenir c'est le ciment de l'amitié, le sel de l'amour qui ne veut oublier le passé. C'est le symbole de la fidelité" (loosely translated: "the remembrance is the cement of friendship, the salt of love that does not want to forget the past. It is the symbol of loyalty"). Wow!
Don't ask me what it means, but I already feel a lot better!

The music that goes with these scintillating sentences is even better!! This lp , titled "Mankan" (= noise) is the third on the Syliphone label by the 22 Band from Kankan, and in my opinion the best. This is quite an achievement, because the other two are brilliant. Right from the first notes of the first track there is a vitality, an energy.....

The A-side is dominated by the guitars and the frantic rhythm section. I don't know about the Unité and the Vigilance, cited in the second track "Lawosse" as being the national motto (or at least the motto of the J.R.D.A. youth movement), but on Action the 22 Band seem to be doing very well. "Tout explose de vie" ("Mankan"), "éclatement rythmique" ("Sin Kon Mina"): very true!

But the 22 Band have saved the best for the very last. The B-side is the 22 Band in its best form. With the horns which already impressed on SLP 67, with an organ surging and undulating through "Sekou N'Fa"... The bit where the organ comes back into focus after just over 3 minutes is one of those unforgettable highlights of Guinean music (and there are many!!).
The last track, "Série", is like a majestic final statement of this momentous album. I think Justin has captured it perfectly: "C'est la poésie chantée de l'amoureux heureux qui se perd consciemment dans ses vérités sentimentales. Une balade au gré de guitares cajoleuses et d'un chanteur romantique. Les souffleurs annoncent les grands moments de l'oeuvre". I am not sure what to think of the bit about the fondling guitars, but the romantic image of loosing oneself consciously in ones sentimental truths: yes, I can see that....

Syliphone SLP 68

July 18, 2010


Having just spent two weeks trying to recover files from a failing & angrily resisting hard disk, I am happy to report that most files have been saved. Only about 2% of the volume was lost.
So I now can get back to the business of sharing some of the forgotten and/or (almost) lost wonders of African (and latin) music with you. And in this case a cassette by a Guinean star who has been the subject of a post in November 2008: Mory Djeli Kouyaté, who used to be nicknamed "Dienne", but later changed this to "Deen".

In my earlier post I stated that Mory Djeli was from Kankan. It appears that this is incorrect: I am told he was born in Siguiri. But he did rise to stardom in the second town of Guinea, Kankan.

It appears to me that this cassette from 1993 was Mory Djeli's first attempt at a break-through on the international market. While the cassette from 1990 which I posted earlier was still devoid of the electronic interventions which seem to tipify recordings made in Parisian studios, this cassette seems to have been the first in which Mory Djeli cooperated with Jean-Philippe Rykiel. A cooperation which, unfortunately, seems to have continued right into the present day.

Personally I am no fan of Mr. Rykiel's meddlings in African music. One of the attractions of (a large part of) African music is the omission, the leaving out of the obvious, the rhythmical gaps, the unsuspected zeros. Mr. Rykiel's synthetic additions fill in these holes like a thick greasy mayonnaise, covering - and in some cases blocking - the subtle tastes of the African ingredients.

It has taken me quite a while to get over the Parisian production of this cassette. But after listening to truckloads of Parisian and Paris-influenced cassettes from west-african artists, my senses seem to have been blunted enough not to be annoyed or irritated by the rykielisation. I have trained my ears not to hear it....

And in hindsight, there have been many cassettes in which the Parisian production is far more pronounced. Even within Mory Djeli's oeuvre, this is one of the more modest productions. The balafon played by M'Mabou Camara and the - at times frenetic - ngoni of Garba Tounkara can still be discerned, and the female chorus sounds far less 'canned' than it does in other productions.
And then there is the winning element of this music: Mory Djeli's brilliant vocals. This man has a Voice.

My favourite songs on this cassette are "I Nagna", "Mory Nikala" and "Telemba". Songs with an enormous drive and with Mory Djeli's power vocals accentuating this drive. In the first track on the B-side pays homage to Amadou Toumani Touré, who at the time had handed back power to the civilian authorities after performing a coup d'état against Moussa Traoré in 1991.

Mory Djeli apparently has made friends in high places. When he fell ill a few years ago, he was sent to Morocco to recover by the then Guinean president Lansana Conté. More recently Mory Djeli, who seems to have acquired the nickname of "Bélébéléba de la musique guinéenne" ("Big - or literally: fat - man of Guinean music"), with his latest album "Sauvons La Guinée" ("Let's save Guinea") appears to have taken on the task of restoring order and peace in his home country.....

Sona Store Production 2091

As a bonus I am adding a track recorded live in Conakry (and broadcasted on Dutch radio some years ago), just to give you an idea of what Mory Djeli could sound like without the Parisian production....

Mory Djeli live

April 30, 2010

Xème Festival

I will try and control myself with the superlatives on this one. This is not easy when dealing with a release on the Syliphone label.

I was recently reading an article* about what appears to be one of the side-effects of the digital 'revolution' of the last twenty years: the enormous loss in dynamics. In digitising older lp's and cassettes I am used to seeing quite a wide dynamic range in the recording tool. When I first heard the digital conversions of the Syliphone records by Syllart, I was immediately struck by the enormous loss of dynamics compared to the vinyl versions. Here you can find an example of "Gön Bia Bia" by le Nimba de N'Zerekore. There are certainly more spectacular examples; personally I have difficulty surpressing my tears when I hear the seriously mauled Syllart versions of Sory Kandia Kouyaté's songs. But I think the versions of the Nimba song should give you an idea of how compression can (in my opinion: dramatically) change a song.

All this brings me to the subject of this post: another superior release on the Syliphone label. In this case another collection from the Festival Culturel National. Again the album features federal orchestras; in order of appearance: Sombory Jazz from Fria, Bafing Jazz from Mamou, Palm Jazz from Macenta, Camayenne Sofa from Conakry II, Niandan Jazz from Kissidougou, Kolima Jazz from Labé and Sorsonnet Rythm from Boké.

This is a nice album all round, but if I have to name favourites I would mention "Zimai" by Palm Jazz for their freshness and uncomplicated approach (with a touch of humour) and "Dho Welilan" by Kolima Jazz. The latter is something of a signature tune of this orchestra, and - if I am not mistaken - this is the original version.
But on another day I might have mentioned "Nana" by Sombory Jazz (this time in a sung version - the instrumental version is on SLP 54 "Musique sans paroles"), or the driving "Sira" by Sorsornet Rythm....

Syliphone SLP 50

*I can also recommend the videos...

December 05, 2009

Kanté Manfla

For a very long time this Kanté Manfla has been a complete and utter mystery to me. And to be frank, he still is.

When I first heard his music, it was clear to me that, despite the fact that he had recorded in Abidjan, he was in fact from Guinea. You don't have to be a great expert to hear this. His "Wamolo" is the same song as Paillote's "N'Dianamolou"(from SLP 3). And all the other tracks on the first EP I heard could have easily have been performed by Bembeya, Orchestre de la Garde Republicaine or any of the other glorious orchestres from 1960s Guinea.
I hasten to add that any recording on Syliphone has a head start, just from being recorded by one of the most original and authentic labels in African history.

So who was this Kanté Manfla? It was soon suggested that this must be one of the Kanté Manfla's with a history with one of the great national orchestras. But he doesn't sound a bit like either the singer with the same name from Les Balladins or like the one from Les Tambourinis or Paillote.
A usually reliable source suggested it was the Kanté Manfila who often is heard on Guinean radio, with just an acoustic guitar. Although I had no way of confirming this, it seemed unlikely.
I have asked several people who visited Conakry to check if they could find any more music by or information about this remarkable artist, - but no luck there. Even older musicians were unable to identify the artist and his music.

Then a friend found two more EP's, - and confusion reigned again.
The first of the two contained a cover of Bembeya's "Loi Cadré" titled "Bara Serah"; and then there is "Nebi Ikononnan", a version of a (non-Syliphone) Bembeya song featuring Aboubacar Demba Camara and probably titled "Conakry Capitale" (which I will post at a later date). Just listening to the music one would be tempted to date this version before the one by Bembeya. But did Bembeya copy it from this Kanté Manfla, of whom nobody had heard in Guinea?

The real 'killer' came in the first song of the second EP when the singer cited the name of Sory Bamba. Sory Bamba? What was he doing there? Was this what he was doing before he took charge of Kanaga, the regional orchestra of Mopti?
The B-side left me even more confused. This starts with a song commemorating John F. Kennedy, who as you may remember was assasinated in November 1963. If the song was anything like current, it would date all these three records in 1964, or earlier (and therefore older than any of the Syliphone songs)!

Enlightenment came when I saw the "Clash Mandingue" CD on the Oriki Music label last year. Of course! Studying the sleeves again I recognised the overbite of the later guitarist of Les Ambassadeurs. I had heard that this Kanté Manfila had a history with Les Ballets Africains, which helped to explain the (mutual) source of his and Paillote's songs*.
There remain, however, plenty of questions unanswered. The recordings on "Clash Mandingue" are said to have been made in 1968. Also they were originally released on the Ivorian Djima label. But these three EP's are on the Philips label, and re-released from the (also Ivorian) Safie Deen label. Also I would estimate - as I have indicated before - these songs to be from 1964 or earlier.

So what does it mean? Did Kanté Manfla and Sory Bamba meet and record before?
If there is anyone out there capable of solving this mystery, please step forward!

Philips 424.652 BE
Philips 424.655 BE
Philips 424.656 BE

*In fact, most bands from that golden era of Guinean music found a great source of inspiration in the repertoire of Les Ballet Africains.

October 03, 2009

9ème Festival

Is nostalgia the longing for a past one has personally experienced, or is it possible to yearn for events of which one was completely unaware at the time when they happened? I ask this, because I experience an extreme attack of nostalgia whenever I read about the 9th Festival National des Arts et de la Culture. The event took place from March 4 to 22, 1973, in Conakry, the capital of Guinea.
I have a strong tendency to burst out in tears even when I only read the programme:
● the 7 nationals orchestras*
● 30 federal orchestras
● the Tout Puissant O.K. Jazz (in 1973!!)
● Myriam Makeba and the Quintette Guineen
● Orquesta Aragon from Cuba.

Of the "inoubliable show global" of the T.P. O.K. Jazz not even a memory remains in present-day Guinea (and I am still hoping someone proves me wrong!). But luckily there is this great album on the Syliphone label which gives us at least a glimpse of the Greatness of this 9th Festival. Although it "only" features tracks from the regional orchestras, it is still one of my favourite lp's on the Syliphone label.

The album contains some brilliant contributions from Nimba Jazz (later known as "Le Nimba de N’zérékoré"), from Kébali Jazz from Dinguiraye, Niandan Jazz from Kissidougou (two tracks), Kakandé Jazz from Boké, Télé-Jazz from Télémélé, Kalum Star from Conakry I, "22 Novembre" Band from Kankan, Dirou Band from Kindia and Palm Jazz from Macenta. There are no "weaker" tracks on this lp. Tracks which may seem 'inferior' initially will grow after hearing them a few times.
But this said, I do have some favourites: "Wara" (Nimba Jazz) with the great interaction between guitars and balafon; Kakandé Jazz's uptempo "Nkhama Gnakha" with its enthusiastic horns; "Djarama Sinta" by Télé Jazz, a favourite for late-night car journeys; Kalum Star's "Lalaba" with its catchy rhythm and great monomaniac rhythm guitar; the "22 Novembre" Band and its "Kouma", I could easily listen to a few albums filled with just that superb band.

Listening to this album I can't help being overwhelmed by a strong sense of nostalgia.

Syliphone SLP 42

* I have no idea what the seventh orchestra was, after (1) Bembeya, (2) Keletigui, (3) Balla, (4) Amazones, (5) Horoya and (6) Boiro Band. Was the Orchestré de la Garde Républicaine 2ème formation still in existence in 1973?

June 25, 2009

Trio fédéral

A few days ago I heard that Stern's are planning another release in their Syliphone series. And -three cheers for Stern's- it will be a double cd of the Horoya Band. That's certainly good news.

In the mean time, and partly as a foretaste of this compilation, here is an album on the Syliphone label with three tracks by the Horoya Band, three by Kebendo Jazz and four (!) by Niandan Jazz. The lp was released, according to the sleeve notes to highlight three of the thirty federal orchestras, which were rising to a level close to that of the five national orchestras. But more remarkably the notes state that these orchestras next (the lp is from 1971) will produce a 'grand volume-identité' to present their musical personality. The only orchestra to in fact produce an entire album after this collection was the Horoya Band, and neither Kebendo Jazz nor Niandan Jazz ever released an lp on the Syliphone label!

If you have read my earlier posts about the Kebendo Jazz you won't be surprised when I tell you the Kebendo tracks are my favourites. "Soumba" is even in the top-ten of favourites of the Syliphone label. Apparently this is a shortened version of a track recorded slightly earlier by Kebendo Jazz (which I pray* will one day be released on CD in its full glory). Hearing the three Kebendo tracks I am again (see this post) left wondering what they did wrong? It can't have been the subjects of their songs; there is enough Sékou Touré, PDG and RDA in them to satisfy even the most orthodox of party members.....

The same, but to a slighty lesser degree, goes for Niandan Jazz. They featured on four compilations (SLP 19, 25 -i.e. this one-, 42 and 50), but never had their own lp. I can't seen why. Their orchestration is simply great, the singing perhaps not top-notch, but still better than others. "Fassouloukou" can compete with any of the songs on the first lp of Super Boiro Band (to name just one of the national orchestras). So where did they screw up?

I am sure you will like this album. I advise you to study the notes with the individual songs. To me they are one of the many attractions of the Syliphone label. But the main attraction remains, of course, that wonderful, incomparable and authentic Syliphone sound!

Syliphone SLP 25

* and don't ask me to whom...

June 10, 2009

Horoya live

This post is partly intended to point you into the direction of some very interesting videos, which have been uploaded to YouTube by Graeme Counsel (of the very instructive RadioAfrica website). Specifically I am referring to this superb video by the Horoya Band, recorded by Graeme in October 2008. The video offers proof that the Horoya Band is still very much alive and going very strong! I can't tell you how elated I felt when I saw this video. It means there is still hope I will be able to see this legendary orchestra. Judging by their performance in this video, I am expecting to be seriously steamrollered by them.

In the second part of this post I would like to carry on where I left off in an earlier post, i.e. with the Horoya Band in their mid-1980s glory. This cassette was brought back from Guinea in 1986, and features some tracks which I would label as classics from the post-Syliphone era. The track "Hakilimaya" has been released on some lp's too (which were mostly credited to Conde Demba 'chanteur du Horoya Band'). The quality of the recording is not very good, but the music - live and steaming - is brilliant.

Horoya live

PS: There are more great videos on the RadioAfrica video page!!

April 27, 2009


You may have been wondering why I haven't posted anything in the last couple of days. I can assure you that lack of material is not an issue (and won't be in the foreseeable future). I have been forced to take it easy, after walking -rather stupidly- into a glass wall nearly a week ago.

I promise you I'll be posting more singles very soon, and I haven't forgotten about Franklin Boukaka or about Le Vieux Lion, but for the moment here is a very short post.

Here is an lp filled with tracks that are bound to bring smiles of recognition on the faces of those who have a reasonable amount of knowledge of the music of Guinea. It contains versions of great tracks like "Apollo" (which Sekou Bambino Diabaté turned into a hit), "Diamaraboy" (which was called "Djama ba labo", when performed by the Horoya Band) and "Moi ça m'en fou", which you will recognise as a track covered by Balla et Ses Balladins, but which according to Graeme Counsel is likely to be a track originally from Côte D'Ivoire.
I leave you to figure out why the other tracks sound familiar.

The artist of this wonderful lp is Kouyaté Sory, who featured on the second volume of "Assalam Aleikoum Africa", - and is not to be confused with Kouyaté Sory Kandia. Listening to the music this is not very likely: this Sory is no belcanto vocalist, but rather a one-man-band on the electric guitar.

By the way: note that this appears to be the first record on the Sacodis label!

Sacodis LS 1-77

April 03, 2009

Who is missing?

Graeme Counsel has pointed out a mystery on the covers of the two lp's by Orchestre de la Paillote on the Syliphone label. According to the cover the orchestra has nine members (including Keletigui).

Both covers, however, only show eight persons!

So the question is: who is this man: David Camara or Djigui Touré?

I am hoping there is someone who can identify this man, and in doing so, can provide an answer to the question: who is missing?

April 02, 2009

More Kebendo!

A few months ago I posted the first of the two lp's on the Tempo label by the wonderful Orchestre de Danse de Gueckédou, better known as Kébendo Jazz. They are among my favourite orchestras in Guinea, and that's saying a lot considering the fierce competition (I refer you to that amazing Boum à Conakry lp I posted a few weeks ago).

I have always wondered why this orchestra was never nationalised. They were the first orchestra ever to win the 'Orchestre' competition of the Festival National des Arts et de la Culture. This was in 1963, a year before the Orchestre Bembeya Jazz from Beyla won the competition and immediately became Bembeya Jazz National.

What did they do wrong? Were they 'sidetracked' because of a lack of 'patriotism' (i.e. loyalty to the P.D.G.)? It can't have been their musical qualities, because at the time of these recordings at least they were musically far superior to Bembeya Jazz, and I have found no evidence that the quality of their music went downhill from then (on the contrary, as you will be able to judge for yourself in a later post).

This lp is brilliant, although maybe not as brilliant as the first. Personally I am great fan of the dreamy vocals of Mamady Traoré, and he has only song on this lp, "N'na gnalen". This track is of outstanding beauty, and at least as good as his two songs on Tempo LP-7013. I also love the first track "Plan triennal", the version of "Soumbayaya" (made even more famous by Jardin and by les Balladins), and the music-to-lie-down-and-gaze-at-the-sky instrumental "Yagou sagou".
What tips the scales in favour of Tempo LP-7013 however is the fact that that lp has two more tracks.....

Tempo LP-7014

March 22, 2009


When it comes to Guinean music from the 1960s I have thought for a long time that there were only two 'players': Syliphone and Tempo. In the last ten years a few Guineans appeared with recordings on other labels (Pathé, Ngoma and few Ivorian labels), but that was about it.

But recently this lp has popped up in what appears to be two different forms. I would like to stress the "appears", because I am confused. Our friend Graeme Counsel sent me a copy of an lp on the East-German Electrola Ausland Sonder Dienst label. And recently another friend and regular contributor of wonderful music to this blog, Faas, came up with what appears to be the same lp, but printed in West-Germany and without a word about Electrola. Are we dealing with a covert infiltration?

I can only hope that this is the first of a stream of undiscovered treasures from the vaults of socialist Eastern Europe. Because there is no doubt that is a real Treasure!

The lp contains five tracks by the Orchestre de la Paillote, two by the Orchestre du Jardin de Guinée and three by the Orchestre de la Bonne Auberge. The latter of the three was, if I understand Graeme correctly, a predecessor of Paillote (and that orchestra was a predecessor of Keletigui et ses Tambourinis).

All tracks are -like all Guinean music from this era*- great, but some are extra remarkable. Like Paillote's version of "Yo Vine Pa'Ve", a track which I recently discovered through the amazing ListenToYourEars blog in a version by Cuban charanga artist Belisario Lopez. Apparently the margins of Sekou Touré's 'authenticité' also allowed a version of "La Paloma", in this case by Orchestre de la Bonne Auberge, and also "El Checheré", performed live by Paillote, may very well a version of a Latin song. Jardin has an alternative (to the one on SLP 2) version of "Fruitaguinée". Certainly remarkable is the instrumental version by Bonne Auberge of the Malinké traditional "Djandjon" (titled "Yamaré lé" on this album), which breaks off without warning. The last track is more in line with the 'normal' Syliphone repertoire. Named "Kindiakayé bara tongo" on the sleeve, the title on the label is "Kindiakayé bara gagné, coupe P.D.G.", - no doubt an ode to the Parti Democratique de Guinée.

DYL 006

*according to Graeme the lp is from 1965

March 14, 2009

Black and White

I haven't been posting as much as would have liked. This is mainly due to the hosting situation. In the near future I will probably move to a more reliable setup, i.e. a 'dedicated' hosting service (any useful tips are welcome). But for the moment, I'll continue as before.

This post is a direct result of an earlier post about Amara Touré. Our good friend Zim was helpful then by supplying a colour copy of the sleeve to replace my rather shoddy photocopy. Later, he sent me these wonderful singles by Amara Touré and his Orchestre du Black and White.

Although some of these six tracks are of a disappointing quality, they have only increased my curiosity. I would certainly like to know more about Amara Touré, and about this superb orchestra. I can only guess that the Black and White was a bar or restaurant, because I can't find any solid information about the band.

My favourite is the track "N'niyo"*, of which I already had a copy on a mysterious cassette from Guinea. Vocally one of the highlights of Touré's (known) repertoire, with an overall excellent performance by all musicians (note the great percussion!).

Amara Toure 45s

Thanks again for these singles, Zim!

*the "2" seems to be a superfluous addition to the title.

March 06, 2009

Kaloum Star live

Kaloum Star is one of those bands from Guinea that has never really made into the limelight. Founded in 1969 by 'Maître' Mamadou Barry (the one with the big smile on the right) they only managed to get a couple of tracks on two lp collections and three single records on the Syliphone label.
I suspect this may be a result of their choice of repertoire. In Sékou Touré's Guinea there was a clear preference for the culture of the presidents ethnical group, the Malinké (or Mandingo). Susu, Peul (Fula) and the many other cultures of Guinea only featured in the folkloric music of ensembles instrumentaux or in ballet. Kaloum Star's strength lay in the Susu rhythms derived from the yankadi street parties.

It wasn't surprising that Maître Barry was very optimistic after the demise of Sékou Touré. "Without a policeman watching our every move you will see an explosion of musical talent in Guinea", he commented in 1986.
A year later they embarked on a European tour, which also led them to the Melkweg in Amsterdam. Their concert on May 22, 1987 was recorded by Dutch radio (to be precise by Dave van Dijk for VPRO Radio). Of these recordings here are five tracks (unfortunately I don't have the titles of these tracks).

I managed to get a copy of the promo cassette which they sent to the programming staff of the Melkweg. Recorded live in Conakry, the drive and energy of these four tracks is unbelievable, and it's the best (by far) of what I have heard of Kaloum Star.
Judge for yourself!