May 13, 2012


Two of the tracks I am sharing with you in this post were on a cassette labelled "Super Biton National 81" which I bought some ten or eleven years ago in Bamako.
It was only last year that I found out I had been misled.

In meeting the musicians from Super Biton in Bamako, last October, I asked them to help me out with the titles of a couple of cassettes attributed to them which I had collected of the last thirty years. Much to my surprise they identified these two tracks, which up to then had been among my favourite "Biton" tracks, as being performed not by Super Biton from Segou, but by Orchestre Bronkoni* from Niono!

The name rang a bell. I had heard of this orchestra in 1988 during my visit to the last of the old style Biennales in Bamako. Two years later I even ventured down to Niono, partly to retrieve some music by this mysterious group, and partly because others had pointed the small town of Niono out as a "hotspot" for traditional Bambara and Sarakolé music. Disappointingly I only found a disproportionate amount of Sudanese music (largely due to the presence of a Sudanese medic, I was told), and some Dutch (agricultural) development aid workers.

In the meantime the name "Bronkoni de Niono" appears to be almost exclusively associated with one artist: Adama Yalomba, who seems to have been touring in Europe (and perhaps also other parts of the world). Apparently he has been a member of this orchestra at one - undefined (!) - point. As seems to be common on the web, all references are indiscriminately copied (and often even without bothering to change the wording).
I am told he is not the only musician with a history with Bronkoni. But I am sure Vieux Paré (video!) is not as well known in the west, so you won't find as many references linking him to the Niono orchestra.

Getting back to the music, even now I have a hard time not associating this music with the legendary Super Biton orchestra. These two songs are of such a high standard, and so brilliantly executed, that it seems hard to imagine them as originating from another source. The opening lines are 100% in the Biton style, with a superb horn section sliding in over the guitar intro. A spine-tingling opening usually only to be found with the music of Biton.
On the other hand it can be seen as an indication of the general - exceptionally high - level of the Malian orchestras, during their 'Golden Years' in the 1970s and 1980s.

Both songs feature elements which can also be found with other Malian orchestras, such as the female impersonation (in "Pary-Mary") and the 'underground' organ (in "Kômon Foli").
But I for one certainly would love to hear more from and by this great orchestra.

Two songs by Bronkoni de Niono

As a foretaste of things to come, I am adding a track which I recorded myself at the Biennale in 1988. The track is by the orchestra representing the district of Bamako: Bamansaba de Bamako. The photo on the right taken during this concert should give you an idea of the circumstances during this concert on September 11, 1988 at the Cinema Rex in the center of Bamako (which no longer exists).
In a future post I hope to write more about the competition of the "Orchestres Modernes" of the 1988 Biennale.

Bamasaba de Bamako - "Danaya Kouma"

* Toussaint Siané wrote "M'Brokoni", and Florent Mazzoleni "Boronkoni", but it's all the same orchestra...


LolaRadio said...

Ik ben dol op brokoli! Groet uut t Heitelan

NGONI said...

Only three songs and lots of ideas spinning in my head.
Three orchestras Bamana flavored.
And three alligators that is the meaning of Bama Saba (not Bamansaba.
The three alligators are the emblem of Bamako.

Someone told me that this girl was Djeneba Seck with the District of Bamako in 1984.

Here at the Rex Cinema in 1988 heard a young Djeneba seck singing the song that made ​​her famous Kankeletigui (have a single true word).

Curiously, the teacher of Djeneba and after her husband Sekou Kouyaté was a member of the Orchestre Boronkoni and later of Orchestre Bamasama.

Tomorrow I will continue listening and will continue commenting...

Jaime said...

Very nice music. Thank you!

NGONI said...

Well I am finally here again, not just the short time I have, but wanted to come here with another version of Pary-Mary, after much searching I remembered that there is not an audio where I heard that song before but in a video of a curious Bamana vocal group that does something similar to the gospel, but certainly without any connection to that style.
At this point I have no time to do the search so I'll share later.

I have heard many times these tracks of Boronkoni Orch. voices and instruments sound very familiar to me, I'm sure that there is a high permeability between Bamanan Bands and musicians bamanas moved from one to another, I really like these two songs is a shame that Pary-Mary cut so abruptly.
Thank you so much for rescuing these gems but mostly by recording Bama Saba I hear constantly waiting for a little more.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful "Danaya Kouma".
A perfect song

[Now I can laugh without shame of the best symphonic rock of the seventies!]

Many thanks!

NGONI said...

"But I for one certainly would love to hear more from and by this great orchestra."

A playlist with eight brand new (old) songs of Le Bronkoni, and the complete full staff of the Orchestra, in the song Fimani ( Fimanou e Jemanou = Blacks and whites).

"In a future post I hope to write more about the competition of the "Orchestres Modernes" of the 1988 Biennale"

That would be wonderful!

WrldServ said...

@Ngoni: Wow! Thanks for these great additions! Such fantastic Bambara music.

You are right regarding the Biennale tracks. I can't promise anything though, as time is my greatest enemy.

NGONI said...

I fully understand we have the same enemy, I have patience.
So I remember the project, according to my experience is that time passes projects are forgotten.
For now we enjoy sharing this Bamana music found.

NGONI said...

Hello Stefan I hope you be very well.
Djeneba Seck's voice transported me once again to the Rex Cinema in 1988 show,this one must be some years later, enjoys the concert.