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ARTIST
TITLE
The Griot's Craft
FORMAT
CD

LABEL
CATALOG #
STCD 1117CD STCD 1117CD
GENRE
RELEASE DATE
1/8/2013


Sékouba Diabaté is the son of Mande griots on both his mother's side and his father's. He was born and raised in the center of what was once the ancient Mande Empire, near the present-day border between Guinea and Mali, and in that region he was known for his strong, soaring voice by the time he was 16 years old. It wasn't long before his reputation reached the Guinean capital, Conakry, and in 1983 he moved to the coastal city to join Guinea's pre-eminent modern band, Bembeya Jazz National. Most of the others in the band were in their 40s, so they dubbed him Bambino -- the Italian for "baby." Why Italian? He's not sure, but Bambino has been his professional name ever since. Today Bambino is in his 40s himself and has been Guinea's biggest star for three decades. He has released five solo albums of contemporary African pop and made many guest appearances with Africando, the multinational salsa band. But he's never stopped being a griot, and his new album brings him and his fans back to the style that made him famous in his youth. The songs are all Bambino originals composed in traditional Mande forms and modes but with decidedly current themes, ranging from the perils of modern love to the heinous practice of female circumcision. Similarly, traditional Mande instruments -- kora, ngoni and balafon -- are deftly augmented by acoustic guitars and bass. Above all, though, is the griot's voice. By turns melancholy, tender, playful and impassioned, Bambino's voice -- one of the best in the world -- never fails to touch hearts and minds.