August 7, 2011

Mory Kante | Sabou

ARTIST:  Mory Kante
TITLE:  Sabou
LABEL:  World Music Network
REVIEW:  Mory Kante, a native of Guinee-Conakry, is one of the greatest living West African griots.  African music aficionados know him as the man who supplanted Salif Keita as the primary singer for Mali’s legendary Rail Band; his 1984 crossover hit “Yeke Yeke” was the first African single ever to sell one million copies.  Sabou was originally released in 2004; World Music Network is making it available again as a bonus disc in its Rough Guide To World Playtime package.  Kante goes back to his Mande and Fula traditional roots on this acoustic album -- the featured instruments include kora (played by Kante), balafon, flute and a variety of hand drums.  The most important instrument of all, of course, is Mory’s voice, high-pitched and expressive; he’s supported by an excellent chorus of female background singers.  This is a traditional album made with European and American listeners in mind: he keeps the songs reasonably short (all between 5 and 7 minutes) and the rhythms accentuate Mande music’s funky syncopation.  A superb example of West African neo-traditional music, accessible to newcomers and full of subtle delights for the initiates. 
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