FMP/FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION - An Edition of Improvised Music 1989-2004


Laf Überland


Africa Djolé - Live

Guinea on the West African coast is a cultural melting pot. The population is dominated by four main ethnic groups: the oldest inhabitants, the Baga and Sousou, as well as the immigrant tribes of the Malinke and Mande from Mali and Sierra Leone. They all live together within the same state but each maintains its own cultural traditions and language.

Out of this cultural cornucopia, Master Drummer Fodé Youla, together with his three partners, manages to "beat" out a wonderful feeling full of vitality, virtuosity and originality. With an infectious kind of spontaneity the four musicians in Africa Djolé hop, dance and drum their way about within the confines of certain well-defined musical roots. These being the so called "light weight" forms of children’s art and love songs, and the more traditional rituals and calls just as they have been employed on official occasions to celebrate and commemorate such things as initiation rites, weddings and funerals. Using partly home made percussion "implements" that would hardly be listed in any European dictionary of musical instruments, Africa Djolé displays a tight, brilliantly constructed ensemble work, full of primeval spirit. Calabash gourds, some with their lids removed, pieces of metal saw blades and woodblocks, plus the most spectacular collection of different drums open the doors to a fascinating world, richly possessed of multilayered rhythmic textures and patterns. Both the century old Calls and Answers, and the improvisations of the two soloists, Ségou Camara and Fodé Youla, provided the special highlights during the spellbinding display of complex rhythmical structures, the almost "jazz-like" time signatures, the overlapping lines and the short solo breaks of this "genuinely indigenous" music.

Africa Djolé, by their performance during the Workshop Freie Musik ‘78, have laid bare one of jazz's well-buried roots a good ten years before a whittled-down, dance-floor version of the real Black African heritage invaded the European pop scene, marketed under the banner of so called "World Music".

Translation: Paul Lytton

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