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DJELIMADY TOUNKARA WITH BAJAUROU
''BIG STRING THEORY''
(MALI, 1984) @
Bajourou represents an acoustic project for guitarist Jalimadi Tounkara and vocalist Lafia Diabate of top-ranked Malian group, The Rail Band, and Bouba Sacko, a West African guitarist who has worked with such vocalists as Tata Bambo Kouyate and Ami Koita. According to African music critic, Chris Furnald, "The blending of these three brilliant players makes for some of the year\'s most enticing music.... swirling guitar melodies and swooping vocals....it\'s as intrictae as any jazz, as endearing as any folk style and yet as distinctly African as it could possibly be".
~ Craig Harris, All Music Guide
More on Big String Theory
This project was instigated in 1992 by Globestyle Records' Ben Mandelson. The idea was to make a fiery, acoustic recording of the Malian music known as "bajourou"- literally "big string" or "big tune." This recording focusses on guitars highlighting intricate exchanges between two of this genre's top guitar players: Djelimady Tounkara and Bouba Sacko. Intent on bringing these two great players together for the first time. Mandelson and Lucy Duran travelled to the Mali capital, Bamako. Djelimady Tounkara is best known as lead guitarist of the Super Rail Band--the band that launched the careers of both Salif Keita and Mory Kante. Bouba Sacko has an impressive career of accompanying top jelimoussow--female griot singers--including the great Kandia Kouyate. President of Mali's fledgling music union and former Rail Band singer Lafia Biabate completed the team. Big String Theory was recorded direct to DAT in Bamako on acoustic instruments, and the session was followed by a 1993 tour of the UK. Critics were immediately won over by the group's dynamic energy. Bringing Tounkara and Sacko together was an idea that would never have happened without the input of the two English producers. While the two guitarists remain friends, they have never palyed together in recent years. So this recording has the added spark of two masters jostling for position in each others' worlds. Folk Roots editor Ian A. Anderson admitted to crying when he first heard the album because of its pure, unadulterated emotional power. -- Banning Eyre
Djelimady Tounkara's name has become synonymous with the Rail Band. He has seen the band through a quarter century of colorful history and constant change. All his adult life, Djelimady has worked to transform his ancestral traditions into dance pop. But at the same time, he has continued to work in more traditional contexts, backing the great jeli singers of Mali on records, in concerts and at the day-long wedding and baptism celebrations that are the modern jeli's life blood. A guitarist, Djelimady Tounkara, has been a driving force in Mali's rich music scene since the early 1960s. The former shepherd and drummer began playing in the local 'Orchestre' in Kita, a town in Western Mali renowned for its musical community. He keenly absorbed the influence of Cuban and Congolese music from the radio and spent much of the '60s building his reputation as a player in the bands Misra Jazz and L'Orchestre Nacional du Mali.
By the early '70s he was the lead electric guitarist with the legendary Rail Band, backing first Salif Keita and then Mory Kante. They were the top band in Mali until Kante left at the end of that decade. Despite his departure, the group went on to enjoy several hit releases in the '80s and early '90s before their popularity dimmed.
It wasn't until 2002 that Tounkara's first solo album was released. Sigui showcases his remarkable finger picking skills in the context of an acoustic ensemble. Tounkara reinterprets traditional jeli tunes (songs from caste members responsible for keeping an oral history of the village or tribe) and a number of classic songs from the Rail Band years with the help of nine talented singers and instrumentalists. His intricate playing is accompanied by percussion, bass, guitar and the scrabbling notes of the ngoni, an instrument considered by many to be West African precursor to the banjo. In recent years, Djelimady has performed in an acoustic trio called Bajourou, accompanied by another masterful jeli guitarist, Bouba Sacko, and by singer Lafia Diabate, a veteran of the Rail Band. Bajourou has released one record, Big String Theory (Xenophile), and plans to record another one in the near future. Djelimady Tounkara won the BBC-3 World Music Award for Africa in 2001. Having chosen to stay close to his roots, Tounkara is now bandleader of the Super Rail Band and his style, rhythm and sense of swing has made him one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
In 2001, Djelimady Tounkara released Sigui on Indigo/Label Bleu, an acoustic album showcasing Tounkara's love for Manding and Bambara traditions.
Song Title Time 1. Hakilima 8:22
2. Mansa 7:37
3. Mankan 7:32
4. Fanta Barana 6:06 5. I Ka Di Nye 5:19
6. Sora 6:56 7. Bastan Toure 5:48 8. Nkani 7:03 9. Jodoo