Djessou Mory Kanté: River Strings – Maninka Guitar
Label: Sterns Africa
Format: CD in digipak / digital downloads
Album release: October 13th, 2014
Younger brother of Les Ambassadeurs guitarist Kanté Manfila and regular guitarist for such renowned singers as Salif Keïta and Sékouba Bambino, Djessou Mory Kanté's musicianship is gentle and understated. It's also magnificent.
Rooted in the Maninka traditions of Guinea and Mali, this album of beautifully crafted instrumentals shows just why Djessou Mory is a guitarist to whom others turn.
Djessou Mory Kanté: all lead & accompanying guitars
Djelimady Tounkara: accompanying guitar on 'Djandjo' & 'Toubaka'
Kerfala Kanté: bass
Charly Coulibaly: keyboards
Harouna Samaké: kamala ngoni
Almoudou ‘Mon Dieux’ Konaté: djembe, doumdouba
Lamine Tounkara: doumdouba
Jiby Diawara: calabash
Bayela Dicko: shekere
2.Nan Koura 5:07
12.Dounia Bara 3:25
13.Kana Nka Kanu Sa 4:29
The parents of Djessou Mory Kanté had many children and at one point his father's compound was home to more than twenty. Among these was the future friend and colleague of Salif Keïta, Kanté Manfila who first found fame in the 1970s as guitarist and chef d'orchestre for Les Ambassadeurs. A little further down the line came Djessou Mory Kanté who now, after the sad death of his elder brother in 2011, has stepped up to the mark with his own unique interpretation of the family tradition.
It was a close relative of Djessou Mory, Facelli Kanté, who is credited as introducing the guitar to Guinea. Whether one person alone could achieve this is open to question, but there's no doubt it was Facelli, who in the 1950s along with the ill-fated (he was first tortured and then shot in a 1969 purge) cultural activist Fodéba Keïta and Les Ballets Africains, who first brought the beauty of this region's music to the wider world.
In Djessou Mory's hands, whether using electric or acoustic guitar, this beauty is gentle and understated. Not for him a screaming lead guitar and histrionic performance, but rather layers of complex interlocking guitars out of which his solos arise and then subside. Always beautifully crafted it should come as no surprise that Djessou Mory is the guitarist and arranger for Sékouba Bambino's much-lauded album 'The Griot's Craft' (Sterns Africa 2012).
Today Djessou Mory is one of those favoured guitarists to whom others turn. His compositions have been covered by musicians such as John Williams on 'The Magic Box' (Sony Classical 2000) and his touring as a regular member of Salif Keïta's band has taken him around the world. In the 1990s Djessou was recorded by Gunter Gretz for his exemplary 'Popular African Music' label but River Strings, recorded while in Bamako on a break from touring, is the first modern album that showcases his music, arrangements and playing of acoustic and electric guitars - exquisite in all respects.
Recorded: May 2012, Studio Moffou & Studio Rayle, Bamako, Mali
Recording engineer: Charly Coulibaly
Recordings produced by Fall Abdramane
Mixed: February 2014, Weymouth, UK
Mixing engineer: Ben Turner
Mixed by Ben Turner & Iain Scott
Thanks to Nyamoi Fall, Jennifer Marshall & Sameer El-Sebai.
A special thanks to Cheick Tidiane Seck for advice & support.
Coucou & Laban written by Kanté Manfila & Salif Keïta published by EMI Music Publishing Ltd. Nan Koura, Fakoly, Denya, Djandjo, Harouna, Mbalia, Dounia Bara & Kana Nka Kanu Sa written by Djessou Mory Kanté, and Toubaka, Senekela & Mossow trad.arr. Djessou Mory Kanté all published by Sterns Music Publ.
All music arranged by Djessou Mory Kanté
Produced by Fall Abdramane for Sterns Music