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BALLA KOUYATÉ & WORLD VISION
(MALI, 2007) @
(Publicado en su día en el fenecido AfroCubanLatinJazz)
Balla has formed his own group, World Vision, putting the balafon center-stage. He is promoting awareness of his culture and rich musical history through his instrument. The balafon is the first instrument of the Mande Empire. It is both melodic and percussive, both sweet and powerful in it's ability, at Balla's hands, to move you. The band was warmly received in September at the Chicago World Music Festival.
That is how Balla was given the name of his ancestor, Balla Fasseke Kouyate, the first Djeli of the Mande Empire and the owner of the very, first balafon. To this day the 800 year-old instrument remains in his family, guarded by his father, El Haji Sekou Kouyate, the Sosso Balatigui.
SABABU means reason, purpose, ancient secret or magic in Balla's native, Mandinka language.
As he was named, Balla was destined to play this ancient instrument and believes it is his purpose to share his balafon music with the world.
Balla Kouyaté is one of the greatest balafon players from the Djeli or "griot" tradition in Mali.
The Kouyatés were the first djelis in the Mandé Empire. The balafon (ancestor of the xylophone) was given to Balla's ancestors by nobles in the 12th century and has remained in his family ever since.
Balla seemed destined to play this instrument, learning at the age of six. He performed for the first time in Bamako, Mali at "Palais de la Culture" with Malian singer Sanignai Kouyaté. In 1994, he was a member of the National Percussion of Mali. By 1997 he was granted the opportunity to play with singer Ami Koïta at the O.I.A. conference, which brought together 27 African presidents.
Balla has been called on to play with many African artists touring in the United States and his superior musicianship has been featured on at least 35 albums. Currently he works with kora master Mamadou Diabaté playing venues such as Lincoln Center Outdoor Festival, Symphony Space and festivals around the country. They both are part of Roswell Rudd's MALIcool ensemble. In 2004, Balla played with Sidiki Condé at Carnegie Hall for a month long residency for children, and has been engaged by many African artists to tour in the United States. He joined Ursel Schlicht's Ex Tempore in 2004. While playing with Ex Tempore, he felt the need to expand the tonal possibilities of the balafon and created a chromatic instrument, to his knowledge the first chromatic balafon ever. Check out his Collaborations page to see more of his current and past projects.
Track Listing ---- ---- -----------1. Balla Foli Ke 5:00 Playing the balafon is my destiny2. Ma Ya Ye Hakili Ye 4:40 Everything in moderation3. Kouyate Fasa 4:53 Hommage to the Kouyates4. Chan Chan 4:50 My version of the Buena Vista Social Club song5. Allah La Ke 5:02 God created everything6. Filen Kolon Balani 3:37 The Broken Gourd balafon song7. All Blues - Bamako to Boston 3:57 Balla's creation mixes Miles Davis, a classicUS song and a Mande song meaning no one can change your destiny 8. Boula 4:47 Hommage to the Fakoli family
Featuring:Balla Kouyate solo and accompaniment balafons, bass guitar and calabashSekou "Pablo" Dembele djembeRick DePofi soprano saxophone and shakerePatricia Tang violin Noah Jarrett upright bass