Famoro Dioubate’s Kakande

Dununya | Jumbie
By BANNING EYRE  |  February 12, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars
Famoro Dioubate is the latest star to emerge from New York’s community of West African, and particularly Mande, musicians. He’s a world-class balafon (wooden xylophone) player who can unleash dizzying swirls of melody — a sound that is the backbone of both traditional and popular music in his native Guinea. Kakande boast musicians from Guinea, the US, and Canada, but the anchor is Dioubate’s nimble riffing and powerful praise singing, as well as the vocal fireworks unleashed by Missia Saran Dioubate, a bona fide Mande diva. Kakande offer a new take on grooves and chord progressions already popularized by the Rail Band, Bembeya Jazz, Salif Keita, Toumani Diabate, and other Mande talents. Here the balafon rules, supported by a sweet blend of electric guitar (Mamady Kouyate), cello (Raoul Rothblatt), flute (Sylvain Leroux), and sax (Avram Fefer). The support players step out on occasion, but they mostly hang with the crisp rhythm section, creating textures that work as well in a dark, roiling jam like “Paya Paya” as on a slow, mellifluous praise song like “Mariama Traoré.” The inventive instrumental and choral arrangements add freshness without denaturing the music’s inherent roots appeal.

Famoro Dioubate’s Kakande + Mory Kante | Johnny D’s, 17 Holland Street, Somerville | February 21 | 617.776.2004
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