Karamba Dioubaté Eeux Mandingues ARB (France)

cd cover Karamba Dioubaté is a Paris-based griot who has worked with some of the major stars of the West African scene, including Kerfala Kouyaté and Ibro Diabaté. Originally from Boké in eastern Guinea, Karamba has performed since an early age, with his main instrument being the acoustic guitar. This is his debut CD and it presents a quality selection of Mande roots-pop with some interesting flavors added. To the line-up of kora, balafon and jembe, Karamba has incorporated the charango, a ten-string plucked lute originally from the Andes. This unusual addition to the standard Mande ensemble works extremely well, as the instrument blends perfectly with its African counterparts. It also serves to highlight the current emphasis on acoustic arrangements and poly-rhythmic textures that are found in Guinean (especially European-based Guinean) music.

The incorporation of instruments that are outside of the traditional repertoire is now a well-worn path in Mande music, yet Karamba succeeds in adding a new vitality. His compositions illustrate the ease with which Mande styles are able to absorb new influences and his music certainly grows on the listener with each play. All songs feature Karamba on vocals and guitar, backed by kora, balafon, bass and supported on most tracks by some fine backing vocalists. The opening song "Raby" sustains a good groove and others such as "Témé," "Dari" and "À Bébé Sumah" are all fine examples of contemporary Guinean music. - Graeme Counsel
(Editions ARB, 46 rue Sainte-Anne, 75002 Paris, France)

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