Ballaké Sissoko - Djourou |  Album reviews

The collaboration has long been a feature of the music of the Malian kora player Ballaké Sissoko. Whether at the beginning of his career with Toumani diabats on New Ancient Strings or in later years with a cellist Vincent Segal With acclaimed chamber music and Musique De Nuit, he has always tried to place the sound of his kora in a subtly broader musical context, while at the same time showing the modest joy of playing with other music.

For the past few years he has teamed up with his cousin as a drummer Baba Sissoko for the Sissoko & Sissoko album and repeat his role in the trio 3MA with Moroccan Oud Maestro Driss El Maloumi and Malagasy Vahila player Rajery. There was even an appearance at the 2019 Proms which helped his music reach a wider audience. With the latest album Djourou, he continues this trend of musical fusion, although this time the inclusion of singers makes the main differences.

Djourou is the Bambara word for “string” and for all guest appearances on the album it is the delicate, refined sound of the kora that of course still dominates. Demba Kunda introduces his nifty, cascading sound before the title track sees another kora player Sona Jobarteh Produce a musical equivalent to luxurious gold embroidery with Sissoko. Vincent Segal later continued his collaboration with Sissoko on the elegant Jeu Sur La Symphonie Fantastique.

Salif Keita contributes earthy singing amid the baroque colors on Guelen, during France Camille delivers more sensual, seductive offers on Kora. Malian rapper Oxmo Puccino gives Frotter Les Mains and the English singer his imposing tones Piers Faccini appears on the softer, lullaby-like Kadidja. The last track, nine minutes long, sees Un Vêtement Pour La Lune Arthur Teboul of the French outfit Fire! Add passionate vocal contributions to the ongoing, tactile kora structures. The singers were chosen on purpose because they have no connection to Malian music, and the result is a separate but distinct collection that harmonizes the traditional sounds of the kora with the outside perspectives.