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Sabou

Mory Kanté

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Album Review

For many years, Mory Kanté's beefed-up African music was the soundtrack of European dancefloors. This time around, however, the Guinean has gone back to his roots for an acoustic album that showcases his talents as a singer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter. It's every bit the tour de force it should be, too, very powerfully rooted, bristling with good material, and with Kanté himself never sounding better, the griot voice curling around notes and lines in his distinctive wail. He's ably supported by others, most notably Adama Condé, whose solos on the deep, xylophone-like balafon are a delight to the ear. But much of the credit lies with Kanté himself, who handles many of the instruments. Whether it's the relentless rhythm of "Mama" or the delicacy of "Nafiya," he's in complete control, letting the music frame his voice and leaving plenty of space for the songs to breathe. That he's a remarkable talent is already beyond question, given his resumé. But this stands head and shoulders above his previous work, some of which has seemed anonymous. Every note of this is personal and sounds that way, performed with joy, great love, and care. He addresses Africa's problems and potential solutions on the title cut, and the power of love in "Diananko," ideas that delve beyond most Western songs but fall well within the scope of a griot and a man concerned with his Mande past and future. With this record, Kanté has rejuvenated his career.

Customer Reviews

Pure and authentic

Mory Kante the griot really goes back to his roots! He plays the kora amazingly well. The whole album is extremely well produced and features new music in a tradition that goes back many centuries. A beautiful acoustic album for all those who love the real, authentic sound of African music.

Biography

Born: 1950 in Kissidougou, Guinea

Genre: World

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Acclaimed for both his preservation and modernization of the musical traditions of West Africa's Mandinka culture, Mory Kanté was born in Kissidougou, Guinea in 1951; the product of a family of griots (musicians who serve not merely as entertainers but also as tribal historians), at age seven he was sent to Mali to learn tribal lore as well as the kora, the West African harp. At 15, Kanté relocated to Bamako and joined the Rail Band, then Mali's most popular group; he remained with the band for seven...
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Sabou, Mory Kanté
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