• Pas une semaine sans qu’une star de la musique ne succombe à la morosité mondiale... Manu Dibango, Bill Withers, Idir, Tony Allen, Millie Small, Little Richard, Betty Wright, Lucky Peterson...

    En 1985, #Jacques_Higelin est au sommet de sa popularité et il prend le risque de réserver le Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy pendant un mois, du 12 septembre au 12 octobre. Ce sera un échec relatif, mais il jouera quand même devant plus de 200.000 spectateurs ! Autre innovation, il ne joue pas sur la scène, mais directement sur la piste en bas, immense scène et immense mise en scène, avec des trappes d’où arrivent les musiciens... Higelin revient aussi d’une tournée en Afrique, et il décide d’inviter deux stars africaines à peu près inconnues en France. Ces invités ne sont pas des « premières parties », mais font partie intégrante de son spectacle. Et c’est ainsi qu’en septembre 1985 des centaines de milliers de spectateurs (dont moi) découvrent un drôle d’instrument, la #Kora, et un fantastique chanteur, #Mory_Kante, en ouverture du spectacle, avec le morceau Ygare (l’autre invité est Youssou N’Dour presque aussi peu connu en France) :

    Je dois dire que je ne suis pas un fan de ce qu’a produit Mory Kanté par la suite, Yéké Yéké et autres tubes afro-pop des années 1980. En revanche, j’ai découvert par la suite le #Rail_Band, le groupe malien où Salif Keita et Mory Kante ont fait leurs débuts. On trouve des disques qui prétendent les réunir tous les deux, mais je crois qu’ils sont mensongers, Salif Keita étant parti peu de temps après l’arrivée de Mory Kante, je ne crois pas qu’ils aient enregistré ensemble. Ici une version de 27 minutes de Soundiata en 1974 avec Mory Kante au chant :

    Mory Kante est mort du #colonialovirus qui fait que la France exploite les richesses de l’Afrique en y maintenant sa domination et sans la payer en retour. Ainsi la plupart des hôpitaux du continent sont sous équipés et, lorsqu’un Africain tombe gravement malade, il meurt s’il n’a pas les moyens de venir se faire soigner (à grands frais) en occident. Indirectement, à cause de la pandémie de #coronavirus, Mory Kante n’a pas pu venir se faire soigner en France cette fois ci, et il est mort de complications d’une maladie chronique dont il souffrait. Il avait 70 ans...

    #Musique #Mali #Guinée

  • Le chanteur et musicien guinéen Mory Kanté est décédé d’une longue maladie ce vendredi 22 mai à l’âge de 70 ans dans un hôpital de Conakry selon son fils Balla Kanté. Surnommé le « griot électrique », a contribué à populariser la musique africaine et guinéenne à travers le monde notamment avec son tube planétaire « Yéké Yéké ».

    In its 1970’s prime, the Buffet Hôtel de la Gare de Bamako used to mix a broad and diverse clientele of Bamako’s fine society and hookers, Western, Chinese, Russian and Arab businessmen with diplomats and African entrepreneurs. Rail Band’s music became the exciting soundtrack of modern Mali, blossoming like a big bright bouquet of tropical flowers. In its heyday, the orchestra pretty much defined by itself the idea of afro-pop.

    Musicians such as singer Salif Keita, singer Mory Kanté, guitar player Djélimady Tounkara and the late bandleader and sax player Tidiani Koné all graduated from the Rail Band before turning to more or less successful solo careers. The Rail Band got started in october 1969 as a regular orchestra in the railway station premises.

    In order to keep up with new forms of fusion music which could be heard in Dakar or Conakry night clubs or “paillotes”, trumpet player, sax maestro and bandleader Tidiani Koné recruits some bold element for his orchestra. Both a griot and a jazzman, Tidiani Koné was a former Orchestre National A musician. His main idea was to bring Malian music out of the dead-end of afro-cuban and Western imitations. He took the chance to recruit a young albinos singer, accompanying himself with a cheap Chinese guitar.

    Koné was the first one to understand that Salif Keita’s voice was pure gold. At the end of 1969, Salif Keita, Tidiani Koné and rythmic guitar player Mamadou Diakité practiced for weeks as a trio in order to forge a repertoire of their own. Other musicians such as guitar player Ousmane Sogodogo and lead guitarist Nabé Baba, timbales player Marius as well as percussion player Abdouramane Koumaré soon join in, encouraged by Koné.

    In July 1970, the Orchestre du Rail Band de la Gare de Bamako gave its first concert, on a tiny open air stage, with palm trees breeze and stars above them. The Rail Band rapidly became one of the city’s main attraction. According to its initial status, the Rail Band must “explore and propel mandingo repertoire in order to aim at the neo-classicism of African chanson”. Born in the heart of the Mandé griot tradition, Salif Keita knew the classic songs. Soon, the folklore part of the repertoire was more prominent than the blues and afro-latin numbers.
    Musicians were paid by the Malian train company, ie by the state, who also owned their instruments. Combining mandingo and bambara traditions, French pop, afro-cuban rhythms, Congolese rumba, American rhythm’n’blues and calypso, the Rail Band’s rise to fame was striking, paving the way for numerous modern orchestras to follow. They rehearsed five days a week from 5 to 6 pm, before changing, dining and taking the stage from 9 pm till the last customer left the Buffet, sometimes early in the morning. In order to help empty the premises from its patrons, Rail Band musicians played late night jazz themes, strongly encouraged by Tidiani Koné.

    With his saxophone hollering at some distant tropical moon, his heartfelt horns arrangements added a sense of epic grandeur to the Rail Band songs. His bold musical mastery set Salif on orbit while modern instruments and instant melancholy radiate through a song like Massaré Mousso. He sings about some impossible love : “If you don’t have anything to do, fall in love with a woman who doesn’t love you / If you dont have anything to do, fall in love with a man who doesn’t love you”. His voice was frail but Salif shows evidences of his vocal grandeur to come. In the early 1970’s, it seems that the Rail Band knew instinctively how to go down in musical history.
    The orchestra took off, thanks to Salif’s youthful vocal prowesses and to the sheer intensity and dedication of musicians led by Kon’.

    Guitar player extraordinaire Djélimady Tounkara joined the band in 1971 as a new recruit. His arrival enabled the Rail Band to reach new heights in a dazzling ascension of recordings done in a tiny Radio Mali studio. His rumbling electric guitar became one of the band instant trademark. Guinean balafon and kora player Mory Kanté also jumped in as the Rail Band was by far Bamako’s finest orchestra in the 1970’s.
    Directly inspired by James Brown’s funk achievements, Sex Machine belongs to the band’s legend, an incredible cover which is both heroic and mesmerizing. It is a pure slice of raw and spicy Malian funk, one of those “straight to your face” songs with a devastating outcome, courtesy of Mamadou Bagayoko’s heavy drums and Cheick’s Traoré sturdy guitar bass playing. Alfred Coulibaly’s Vox organ adds up to the hypnotic mood of the song.

    Looking for the Rail Band’s trails these days, one has to stop by the old Buffet Hôtel de la Gare in downtown Bamako in order to feel the countless, panoramic and moving memories of this unrivalled musical golden age and this masterful orchestra.