While my pal Tom is exploring Mali, I found myself listening to some rather obscure but delightful Malinese records from the recent past:
Kulu - N'GOU BAGAYOKO (Frikiyiwa, 2002)
Recorded by Frédéric Galliano in Bougouni in January 2002, this is some truly wonderful Malinese finger-picking blues with great female guest appearances by the likes of Maïmouna Keita, Maï Sanogo, Fanta Koné and star Nahawa Doumbia. Subtle and echanting music for the bon vivants among you.
Déli - BALLAKE SISSOKO (Label Bleu/Indigo 2000)
Together with Toumani Diabaté, Ballaké Sissoko is probably the best kora player of the new generation. Mama Draba is younger and lesser known abroad than Kandia Kouyaté, Amy Koita or Oumou Sangare but still one of the great performers of the epic Griotic Bambara and Malinké traditions. (Also check out Ballaké Sissoko's follow-up album on the same French label called "Tomora" and his collaboration album with Toumani Diabaté called "New Ancient Strings")
Segui – DJELIMADY TOUNKARA (Label Bleu/Indigo 2001)
The guitar hero of Manding music and one of the founding members of the Super Rail Band (a modern electric group, financed by the Malian Railway Company and comfortably installed in the Buffet Hotel de la Gare in Bamako to entertain the youth of Bamako as well as foreign visitors and Heads of State). On “Ségou”, Tounkara is backed by an acoustic outfit with superb female choruses. (Also check out his follow-up album on the French Marabi label called “Solon Kôno”)
Jako Baye – ADAMA DIABATA (Stern’s Music 1995)
Mesmerizing Wassoulou music by one of the new Malinese divas. A wonderful clash between acoustic and electric guitars, between traditional kora music and electric programming. The song “Sabafolo” must’ve been made in heaven. A contemporary classic!