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(last revision 07/10/2000)
TITLE: Maïmouna - Songs of Mali - Dakan
ARTIST: Maïny Damba
NUMBER: PS 65226
YEAR: 1999
COMPANY: Productions Sunset-France
96, rue du Château7
92100 Boulogne - FRANCE
Tel: 33 (0)
Fax: 33 (0)

The CD contains 10 tracks with a total playing time of 53:37.
Toubani percu 4:56
Ami camara 5:16
Djoukouya (Dakan) 3:26
Coumba diawara 6:29
Tata nana 5:13
Hereban 4:40
Atarmenak 5:29
Koulabanta tounialema 5:48
Saya magny 5:23

Maïny Damba vocal
Adama Drame jembe
Moriba Koïta nkoni
Aly Wagné flûte Peul
Adama Konde balafon
Djeli Moussa Conde kora
Sorel Diabate guitar
Bakary Doumbia dundun
Adja Mancibe Koyate, Adja Rokia Sissoko chorus

Maïny Damba was born in 1957 in Bouaké, to a large family living in Kita, Mali. Kita is famous for its professional musicians, the dyeli in Manding or griots in French. From the early childhood, Maïny used to accompany her grandmother Mah Djakoussiran and her mother Mariam Kanonté to every feast, thereby learning the rich tradition of the Malinke, Bamana, Fula and Sarakholé peoples.

Maïny left Kita for Bouaké and started her career by performing at events throughout Côte d'Ivoire, accompanied by her daugther Adja and the tradition goes on.

After her career in Africa, she headed for Paris, France in 1993 and though she was confronted with other styles of music there, she still performs at a variety of traditional festivities of the West African communities living in Paris.

Regarding this recording, Maïny is joined by the 'giant of djembe', Adama Drame, who also arranged the musical part of the recording, Moriba Koïta, is a famous griot residing in Paris and a master of the ngoni, as well as Adama Condé, the balafon player with Mory Kanté and Aly Wagné, a Fula flute player.

With this lineup, there's no doubt that we can expect some extraordinary performances and, as a matter of fact, I couln't found any recording in my small collection, that compares to this excellent blend of great musicians and their respective instruments.

The songs are almost exclusively "praise songs", starting with "Toubani percu" in praise of Adama Drame: 'Toubani' - the carrier pigeon - is also a person who travels in search of his or her destiny. The other songs are about Maïny's sponsors, famous griottes, her father Boubacar Cissoko, an aunt that died to young or African artists in general.

Let's talk about the music. It's a lively, eclectic mixture of these wonderful instruments - dundun, jembe, bala, flute and ngoni in perfect harmony with Maïny's beautiful voice.

Regarding the different pitch and volume of all these instruments, it's amazing how the music fits together, without any instrument being too prominent. The different voices are easy to follow, be it Adama's intricate djembe accompagniment, the kora or the bala, with Maïny's voice always in the foreground.

Important exceptions to this  rule are "Coumba Diawara" in praise of that great griotte whom Maïny learned a great deal from, where the sole accompaniment to her voice are bala and guitar or "Saya magny" where she sings over bala and ngoni. As guitar and bala player I'm of course addicted to that instrumentation, always challenged to figure out one or another pattern on either instrument.

To summarize, it was a nice suprise for me to track this recording down and it's one more proof for me that Adama Drame is one of the most creative of the contemporary djembefolas.

Feedback is, as always, welcome and appreciated.

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