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Boubacar Traore - Kongo Magni

Artist: Boubacar Traore
Title Of Album: Kongo Magni
Year Of Release: 2005
Label: Lusafrica
Genre: African Folk Blues, World, Folk
Format: MP3@320 kbps
Sound Quality: FULL
Type: CD
Total Time: 48 min
Total Size: 110 mb
Considered as a bluesman in the western countries, Boubacar Traore, a.k.a. Kar Kar, is above all someone passionate whose music distils emotions and dreams with simplicity and precision. His powerful and warm voice sings his country’s history, the hope and despair of the Malian people, their love and expectations, the world surrounding them – striking melodies, all inspired from the Kassonke Malian tradition in which he has always bathed in.
His inimitable style warmhearted as well as wistful can be heard on his latest album, “Kongo Magni” released in 2005 by the label Marabi. Boubacar’s fame takes roots in the 1950s. He entertains the Malian post-independence days, when Bamako dances to “Mali Twist” or “Kabeya”. In these hits only broadcasted on the radio, Kar Kar urges his fellow citizens to rebuild the country. A whole generation is moved. With his guitar and leather jacket, he is seen as the Malian Chuck Berry or Elvis Presley by the youth of the time. But soon starts the cultural revolution of Modibo Keita’s socialist regime. Boubacar is broke and cannot afford producing records. He then heads back to Kayes, the region where he was born in 1942. Hence, 400 kilometers from Bamako, he works as a tailor, a merchant, then as farm representative. Away from the stage and his craft for twenty years, everybody believes he is dead until 1987 when National Television invites him for a live show.
Slight euphoria, the artist is born again. But unfortunately at the same period (1989), he looses his wife Pierrette whose memory remains as one of his major inspiration. Kar Kar then settles as a factory worker in France though still working on his music. Within two years, he records two albums; concerts follow on in Switzerland, Canada and the United States. At the initiative of art magazine Revue Noire, the singer heads back to Bamako to record his third album on which can be found major figures of Malian music – Ali Farka Touré, Toumani Diabaté, Kélétigui Diabaté. Musiques Métisses Festival in Angouleme welcomes him in 1991 and Christian Mousset produces in 1996 for the label Bleu Indigo the album “Sa Golo”. A second one, “Maciré”, follows in 1999. His discography grows again in 2002 with the release of “Je chanterai pour toi” (Marabi), the official soundtrack to Jacques Sarasin’s movie adapted from the book “Mali Blues” by Lieve Jorris (Acte Sud).
Ever since, the singer has been traveling the world and spreading this particular blues from Sahel throughout the tours and albums. Reference in Europe (where his shows are like a mass for an ever growing and younger audience) and in the United States (counting Martin Scorsese among his fans who has always wanted to make a biopic about the artist); Boubacar Traore remains a revered artist in his country – Mali.
Tracklist
1 Djonkana 4:10
2 Kongo Magni 5:57
3 Kanou Traore 7:07
4 Horonia Traore 5:01
5 Dounia Tabolo 5:48
6 Kar Kar/Vincent 5:23
7 Indépendance 5:24
8 Sougourouni Saba 3:27
9 Sénékéla 6:27
Simply one of the best recordings of 2005, Kongo Magni is a fine new release from a singer-songwriter-guitarist who has been around and known at least in his native country for some time. The Malian artist has a smooth-as-silk vocal style and blends some of the sounds of his country with the blues of the southern United States.
Malian folksinger Boubacar Traore is not simply laying down standard blues chord progressions here, but there is something in this new record that is hugely evocative of the kind of music that is usually associated with the Mississipi delta. If John Hammond had grown up in West Africa, this is the kind of music he might be playing.
Yes, it has much in common with the blues -- including the harmonica-guitar combination -- but this African legend's very sweet, very cool acoustic music has some very different elements as well. He's an innovative, percussive acoustic guitar player, and here on this disc accompanied by some accomplished side musiciaans that do nothing but add to the sound and feel of the music.
Without any anguish in his voice, he gently prods the listener to consider the elements that make up the life of a people: jealousy, war, children, death, farming. One does not have to understand the lyrics to feel the deep emotion in the work of this artist.
On "Djonkana," "Kar-Kar/Vincent" and other compositions, one hears the lovely harmonica of Vincent Bucher, which adds a perfect touch. On "Kanou," a song about love, harmony and peace, hear Regis Gizavo on the accordion.
As well, the disc features Pedro Kouyate on calabash gourd, Emile Biayenda on percussion, Yoro Diallo on kamele ngoni and Keletigui Diabate on balafon. "Dounia Tabolo" with its bluesy guitar and very African percussion (including the calabash) is perhaps the best example of how he fuses styles to make his own sound.
But it is Traore's voice, and really his guitar, which sets this disc apart. I cannot say I have never heard guitar playing like this, but I really can't remember when I have. Only Hammond, perhaps.
Traore was once considered the Elvis or Chuck Berry of Mali -- in his early days -- but with this disc he is in his own groove, one might go so far as to say he is inventing his own genre.
If you haven't yet heard this fine African musician, now is the time to take a listen and see what you are missing.
by David Cox
Rambles.NET
25 February 2006

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