Toba Seydou Traore

YY 006CD YY 006CD

"A refresher in all things Yaala: Our last release was the American debut of monumental Malian hunters' musician Yoro Sidibe, the acknowledged legend and master of what some (like ethnomusicologist Eric Charry) have called the most ancient music still being performed, that of the donso ngoni artists of rural West Africa. Ngoni is a Bamana word meaning stringed instrument; donso means hunter. A donso ngoni player's strength lies in his ability to sing powerfully and imaginatively for great lengths of time about the great men who've won fame tracking and killing wild game. These musicians continue to play an essential role in modern Malian society through both praising legendary hunters and preparing contemporary hunters for the hunt. In parts of Mali, the landlocked country in West Africa where Sidibe, Toba Seydou Traore and Abdoulaye Traore are from, one can still spy these hunters and their musicians loping about in amulet-laden cloaks, pre-Muslim, pre-Christian, pre-modern. It cannot be overstated: this group is a direct link to an ancient world of charmed beasts and superhuman power, which men harness to enact good in a world filled with evil, and vice versa... We here at Yaala can't get enough of the donso ngoni and we're wild about the myths and legends that make the culture of the hunters so rich and fascinating. Beyond that, we find our enjoyment of the music to be only partly intellectual; there is little chin-rubbing involved, little suffering through that which we do not understand, and instead much head-bobbing and foot-tapping. This is booty-shaking dance music for getting one fired up to go out and DO IT, and not music to mellow out to, literally: the best hunters' musicians get the adrenaline flowing in those men who're about to head out into the night, rifles and shotguns at the ready... The latest releases from YYR feature two prominent contemporary donso ngoni players and singers, both protégés of Yoro Sidibe. In this context the word protégé or apprentice is not inaccurate; not everyone can decide to become a donso, and the gift is said to be passed down from strong women to strong sons; it is equally a gift to be able to recognize which young boys have what it takes to brave both the bush and the strings of the donso ngoni. Young men are apprenticed to the great elder musicians and earn their place in the hierarchical society of the donsos. Toba Seydou Traore and Abdoulaye Traore have apprenticed to the greatest living donso ngoni artist in Yoro Sidibe, and to that end YYR is both proud and excited to bring their music to our little corner of the world. Toba Seydou Traore was born in the early 1960s near Bougouni in Mali, where as a young child he heard the music of hunters. Seydou's ensuing fascination led to much family conflict, but he persisted, later becoming an apprentice of renowned musician Yoro Sidibe (YY005) and eventually a master in his own right. Consistently satisfying listeners across Mali with his strong voice and truly comic sensibility, Seydou cries out here over the trance-inducing pulse of his deep six-string donso ngoni to exceptional hunters, Muslim holy men, and elderly blacksmiths, lauding their knowledge, power, and invaluable contributions to Mande society."