Caravan launches its 18th season with sublime and powerful music from Mali, co-presented with the Rogue Folk Club.
Trio Da Kali is a group of outstanding musicians from the Mande culture of southern Mali, who come from a long line of distinguished griots (hereditary musicians). Consisting of vocals, bass ngoni, and balafon they take their name from one of the oldest and most iconic praise songs in the griot repertoire, dating from many centuries ago. “Da kali” means “to swear an oath”, in this case, it is the griots’ pledge to maintain their art.
On September 15, Trio da Kali releases their first full-length album, LADLIKAN, a collaboration with the Kronos Quartet. The new album represents a landmark in cultural cross-fertilization.
Fodé Lassana Diabaté, the musical director of Trio da Kali, is a virtuoso balafon player from Guinea, where the instrument originated in the 13th century. Lassana began playing at the age of 5 at home in Conakry with his father, Djelisory Diabaté, a master balafon player, from Kindia, some 150 kms inland. Lassana later apprenticed himself to some of the celebrated balafon masters such as the late, great El Hadj Djeli Sory Kouyate, also from Kindia, as well as the late Alkali Camara. To this day, Lassana cherishes the now rare recordings of his mentors, whose unique styles continue to be an important inspiration to him. A musician of great subtlety and invention he has honed a virtuosic two-balafon technique to perfection. He settled in Mali in the late 1980s after being invited to join the band of the diva Ami Koita, and has since recorded with many of Mali’s top artists such as Toumani Diabaté, Salif Keita, Babani Koné, Tiken Jah Fakoly, and Bassekou Kouyaté; he was also a member of the Grammy-nominated Mali-Cuba collaboration, Afrocubism.
Hawa Kasse Mady Diabaté is undoubtedly Mali’s finest female voice today, revered at home for her knowledge of repertoire and for her powerful, clear and expressive voice, rooted in the tradition of Kela, a village in southwest Mali famous for its griot music, where she grew up. She is the daughter of Mali’s most celebrated male singer, Kasse Mady Diabaté – guardian of Kela’s special tradition – and the niece of Mali’s best-known female singer and composer, the late Sira Mory Diabaté. Today Hawa is amongst the most sought after stars at weddings and baptisms (the most important showcase for griots in Mali). In June of 2016 Hawa performed in Terry Riley’s ‘Mali in C’ for Africa Express at Holland Festival and again at Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris in May 2017.
Bass ngoni player Mamadou Kouyaté, the eldest son of the instrument’s greatest exponent Bassekou Kouyaté, also holds down the groove in his father’s band Ngoni ba. He grew up in Bamako playing the ngoni with his father and the extended family, and is astonishingly creative in the bass lines he produces on this four-string bass string instrument. Kouyaté is also involved in the thriving Bamako hip-hop scene.
All three Da Kali members were brought together as a griot ‘super-group’ by Dr Lucy Duran on behalf of the Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI), which has an admirable track-record of commissioning and producing a variety of projects involving traditional musicians.
ARTIST WEBSITE: http://www.triodakali.com/