Djembe and Mande Music/Bamako Foli
(last revision 02/02/00)

This CD is distributed in limited numbers with the goals of making contacts, sharing good music and providing a positive emotional experience.

In addition to presenting useful socio-cultural information, my intent is also to have the musicians earn some money. To reduce the costs of this essentially non-profit product, the CD is packaged simply.

The musicians and I began this project as a cooperative effort and, at later stages of the project, we received the assistance of Bandaloop Music Productions and the Djembe and Mande Resource and Reference Group.

The recordings were initially self-published in 1994 as a chrome cassette ("Festmusik aus Mali", 200 cassettes were distributed). While the recordings remain essentially unaltered, I have completely revised the accompanying materials. This includes expanding the formerly sparse liner notes, correcting the titles on some tracks and providing a new, more specific name for the overall recording. I am delighted by this rare opportunity to rework previous omissions and mistakes and to make good use of the increased space available in an online format.

The discography of jenbe recordings from Mali is slowly growing. Presently, I am aware of the following:

Coulibaly, Soungalo, 1992, Percussion and Songs from Mali. Arion,
ARN-64192/Melodie, 09265.

Doumbia, Abdoul, 1995: Abdoul Doumbia. AKD 95.

Dunbia, Yamadu et alii, 1996: The Mali Tradition: The Art of Jenbe
Drumming. Bandaloop, BLP 001.

Dunbia, Yamadu et alii, 1997: Dònkili, Call to Dance: Festival music from Mali.
Pan Records, PAN CD 2060

Kante, Mamadou, 1994, Les Tambours du Mali/Drums from Mali. Playa Sound, PLS 65132.

Rhythms of Mali, 1995, Drums of Mali: Baco Djicorni. Djenne, DJCD 1001.

Traoré, Moussa 1999: Mali Foli, Talking Drum records, TDCD-80108.

These productions include recordings of festival, ballet, ensemble
instrumental and free style percussion music. Since many of the musicians featured on this recording can be heard on CD already, what is the importance of Bamakò Fòli?

1. This is the first CD actually recorded at a traditional Malian drum-dance event. A "normal" family festival represents the most common performance context for most West African jenbe drummers.

2. The legendary Grand Yamadu Bani Dunbia (born in about 1917) is featured on this recording; he should be carefully listened to as often as possible! Dunbia is one of a handful of drummers who had the greatest influence on the development of the Bamako jenbe style in the 1960s. And he is the only one who has been recorded.

3. This recording features the current lead drummer–Brahima (alias "Petit B.") Samake–from the Ballets Maliens, the national ballet of the Republic of Mali, who demonstrates the solo expertise, repertoire and style that continues to be developed by the younger generation in Bamako.

4. So far, most jenbe recordings from Mali have "Mali" in their title. The title of this CD speaks of Bamako. I wish to emphasize here, and with this CD, the fact that what is commonly known as the "Malian national style" is more accurately the "Bamako style". The full repertoire comes from many regions of Mali; but the fact that it is played on the jenbe drum, in the way we hear it today is a specific result of the creation of an urban tradition, more precisely, the urban tradition of Bamako, "the melting pot". The Bamako/Malian national style is in part a result of the professionalization, implicit in drumming in ballets and in festivals, that provides a living for many drummers.

The musicians you hear on this CD come from throughout Mali. Yet, all have spent a good part of their lives in the capital, and they were musically acculturated in this city whether for the first time or for the second time. As Jaraba Jakite once told me: "When I came here I had already mastered Maninka-fòli, but I did not know anything. It was here that I learned Bamakò-fòli. If you go to a place, you are an apprentice at first, whether you are 10 years old or 30, whether you a beginner or a master. After that I learned Bamana-fòli, because my wife happened to be Bamana, and so I specialized in that style to be able to perform the engagements that I got through her mediation."

These are but four reasons for purchasing this CD.

Figure 2:
Singer Sita Ye Jabate is pouring water in front of the drummers to
reduce the dust that soon will be raised by the solo dancers' stamping feet.
Later on the same afternoon in August 1994 as figure 1, Badialan, Bamako.
Photo: R. Polak

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