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Mali - Kora & Balafon
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Mali - Kora & Balafon

Sissokho Yakhouba, Lansine Kouyate
1 Mar. 2006 | Format: MP3

£5.49 (VAT included if applicable)
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Mar. 2006
  • Release Date: 1 Mar. 2006
  • Label: Air mail music
  • Copyright: (c) Providence Music
  • Total Length: 59:45
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001NE5JJY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 134,323 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Martyn VINE VOICE on 16 April 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
In the last 5-10 years 've listened to quite a lot of Malian music and seen quite a bit perfomred live. Over that time I've grown to love not just the kora but also the balafon, a large wooden xylophone-type instrument.

It was specifically searching on Amazon for the latter that led me to this album.

There are some nice pieces here and the playing is competent-to-good, but unfortunatley I've been spoilt by listening to a lot of Toumani Diabate so in comparison it's hard to put the kora-playing on the same scale.

Likewise the balafon is not as melodic as I've heard some other players make it.

Lastly I feel maybe the production doesn't help - the sound is quite jarring at times, the instuemtns do't seem to complement each other or be at the best relative levels and I wasn't always able to really relax into listening to it.

To get a really great combination of these instruments, you should go for the album 'Djelika' by, inevitably, Toumani Diabate on kora and the excellent Keletigui Diabate on balafon, along with additional help from the outstanding Bassekou Kouyate on ngoni - you get the picture.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By P. Wooding on 19 Sept. 2009
Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
Surprised no one's commented on this before. Seriously good virtuoso playing throughout. Simple, yet complex, syncopated and shifting rhythms; intricate interplay of the balafon (wooden keyed percussion idiophone, a bit like a xylophone, marimba, glockenspiel or vibraphone) and kora (something like a lute or guitar, but sounding a bit like a harp). Amazing cheap price. Anyone with a liking for authentic West African music should buy this.

Mesmerising. Just close your eyes and listen.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Kora + Balafon = Sheer audio bliss 4 Dec. 2007
By Bruce Whitehouse - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I bought this recording on a whim and have never regretted it. It consists entirely of instrumental tracks, duets between Sissoko's kora (21-stringed harp) and Kouyate's balafon (marimba). Usually I find instrumentals featuring either kora or balafon to be rather dry and not always inspiring. In this case, however, not only are the players incredibly gifted, but they have an unparalleled ability to listen to each other and blend the sounds of their instruments easily together. Sometimes one comes to the melodic fore while the other provides accompaniment; sometimes they intertwine their intricate melodies with intense energy. The final product is a beautiful work of art, and Sissokho and Kouyate deserve far more recognition than they've had for producing such masterful music.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Somewhere in Mali... 5 Oct. 2008
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
... I hope these two artists are still making music, the same music without acoustic bass or programmed chords on electric piano, but chances are they're both driving taxis in New York or Paris. This is as authentic a recording of the traditional pre-globalization music of Mali and West Africa in general as you'll be able to find, other than scratchy ethnographic tapes made 50 years ago. It's not music that requires any apologies; it's vibrant, graceful, and skillfully played on two ancient Malian instruments.

The "kora" is the harp of West Africa, built from a huge gourd, with about 21 strings. It's the instrument used by "griots" to accompany themselves as they sing or recite genealogical histories. The "balafon" is a basic xylophone with gourd resonators. The built-in scales of the two instruments constrain and shape the muisc they can produce, but beyond that fact, skilled players can be as virtuosic on such hand-made acoustic instruments as on a modern pedal harp or an electrified marimba. That's what you'll hear on this CD, two virtuosos of their tradition jamming together and firing each other up to transcend their instruments. The recording quality, by the way, is excellent, making these rather quiet instruments fill the soundscape.

Just as an aside, let me pose a question. It's declared often and loudly that the roots of American jazz are in a heritage of West African music brought to this New World by slaves. I suppose that's an attempt to give "credit" to African-Americans for musical vitality, but the credit isn't credible, and doesn't assign nearly enough credit to those jazz pioneers. How much like jazz does this music sound? Do you hear "blue" notes? Do you hear jazz syncopation? Uh uh. The instruments of early jazz were the instruments of Europe - trumpet, trombone, clarinet, mandolin - not the kora or the balafon, not even the typical hand drums of Africa. The musical forms of early jazz were stylistic departures from European marches and dance music. The genius of African-American descendants of slaves was to reshape European music to their own cultural sensibilities to to create something so vital that it flowed back across the Atlantic to both Europe and Africa, influencing the 20th C music of 'classical' composers and of 'high-life' orchestras in the new cities of West Africa.

But aside from my aside, let me recommend this CD as one of the most enjoyable examples of traditional African music I've encountered.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great listening, soothing 4 Jun. 2010
By Galen O. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Kora (African harp) and the Balafon (wooden xylophone) go well together and this is an excellent listening CD. Almost better that being there (I know from experience) as it is a Africa-Western rendition.
Timelessly Pure and Simple 4 May 2012
By applewood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The kora (the bright and crisp sounding 21 string harp-lute of West Africa) and the balafon (the high toned West African wooden plank and resonator gourd xylophone) are not usually recorded in duet, but here (in the masterful hands of Sissokho Yakhouba and Madou Kita respectively) they make for a magical and complete musical conversation, rich with layers, melodies and rhythms. These 5 instrumental tracks flow seamlessly and soothingly, and combine the ancient (instruments and sensibilities) with the modern (recording quality). In this age of hype and excess it is a joy to discover such simple and authentic music still being composed and played.
Wonderful african instrumental music 26 Jan. 2013
By super mom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Bought this CD for the Kora and balafon sounds, traditional african instruments, played by 2 maestros. The Kora is the African version of the harp, the balafon is the African version of the xylophone. Wonderful ! In addition to the sounds, you also get a hint of some traditional West African melodies, half-ballade half ritual. Very Nice experience !
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