Historic photos taken by Ton Verhees before and during the last concert of Franco et le T.P.O.K. Jazz at the Melkweg in Amsterdam, - just 20 days before his death in Namur, Belgium.
We had already seen the dramatically slimmed-down Franco at the same location, the Melkweg in Amsterdam, in January. But as he walked through the main entrance of the same theatre surrounded by his musicians just over 9 months later, he looked but a shadow of his former self. The musicians were clearly worried. Dizzy Mandjeku shook his head and told me "Ça ne va pas". They had tried to persuade him not come, to stay in Brussels, but he had been adamant. He had made a promise and he was going to keep it.
Encouraged by the pleasant and open interview during his last visit I had prepared a long list of questions. But seeing the man it was clear not only that Franco was too busy with his present condition and with what he had set himself to do, but also that I would not have the emotional nerve to bother an obviously very sick man with issues from the past.
The concert itself remains a painful memory for all those who were present. Some of those were perhaps not aware of the severity of the occasion. Many, including myself, still feel the intense sadness of seeing this tout-puissant musical giant so powerless, so fragile, struggling and frustrated.
Fortunately a Malian journalist and friend, Bouné Zouboye, did have the courage to talk to Franco, after the concert. The short interview fully captures the emotion of the moment, not only of Franco's own desperation, but also of the feelings of compassion and profound sympathy felt by the public on that historic evening, 24 years ago...
With the holiday period over and business returning to normal I am hoping to find more time for this blog. Particularly I hope to post a few of the albums, cassettes and recordings I have promised in previous posts.
I would like to start with an album I referred to in a post more than two years ago. And I am not going to repeat what I wrote then, so this can be a short post.
This lp, recorded in Abidjan in 1979, is not my favourite by Djelimadi Tounkara and the Rail Band du Mali, but it does have some of my favourite tracks by the orchestra. I agree with Graeme Counsel (see my earlier post and Graeme's notes on his website) on "Dosoke Cery", but prefer the opening track of side A, "Koulandjan", to "Djiguiya". While the organ (played by Cheikh Tidiane Seck) is slightly irritating, particularly because of the thin sound, horns and guitars are nicely proportioned in this Malinké classic. Djelimadi himself (lead guitar) is great on all the tracks, and please also note the rhythm guitar, played with considerable flair and subtlety.
The singers on this album, Sekou Kanté and Sekou Kouyaté, are okay but not exceptional, and certainly not of the same level as Mory Kanté or Salif Keita. In songs like "Trio Mandingue" their harmony is a bit awkward and tends to create an atmosphere of sullen boredom.
As I mentioned I don't share the enthousiasm for the track "Djiguiya". This may have to do with Cheikh Tidiane Seck's dominant role in this song and my general aversion to 'funky tunes'.
To me the star of this album is the wonderful version of "Dosoke Cery". All the elements fall into place in this song. I write "version" because if you listen carefully you may hear the similarity between the melodic theme of this song and that of "Diabaté Zani" by the Super Djata Band. This theme is, of course, derived from the music of the hunters (donso); a line of stars of the donso ngoni music is mentioned*. "Dosoke Cery" is brilliantly understated and jubilant at the same time. The jubilation is provided by the superb interaction between rhythm and lead guitar, the understating is done by both organ and singer.
I am sure many of you won't agree, but I am of the opinion that the organ is superfluous and the song would be even better without it. The organ partially neutralises the tension generated by the two guitars and the vocal. Despite this critical note, "Dosoke Cery" is still a great song.
In the past few days I have been in the precise mood for this classic album from 1984. I hasten to add that I am not a fan of this orchestra, Super Diamono (or Jamano) de Dakar, but I do love this lp.
The lp itself was given to me on April 11, 1986 by Donald 'Jumbo' Vanrenen, who at the time was still living in London and very much in charge of the Earthworks label. I interviewed him about his relation to music in general and to artists like Thomas Mapfumo. In re-listening the 3-hour interview I have not been able to discover what triggered this gift, but until this very day I am truely grateful.
Purely coincidentally I interviewed both Moussa Ngom and Omar Pene that same year. The interview with Moussa Ngom, after a concert in the legendary African Feeling series organised by Oko Drammeh at the Paradiso in Amsterdam (see the flyer below), was very strenuous, with Moussa answering in platitudes which seemed to be inspired by reggae lyrics. Omar Pene, who I interviewed at the WOMAD festival, was - by contrast - extremely businesslike in his answers. One answer in particular stuck with me. Asked if it didn't bother him that European audiences had no idea what he was singing about, he said that to him the voice was primarily an instrument; changing the language would mean changing the instrument.
Listening to this album I have to agree that the songs would sound ridiculous if they were sung, for example, in french. Omar Pene's voice is in perfect harmony with the instrumentation, almost to a point where voice and instruments amalgamate.
In general I thoroughly dislike anything even vaguely resembling a synthesizer, and I think the introduction of this demon child of organ parentage has played a major role in the degradation and impoverishment of musical cultures. Nevertheless, given that the damage has been done, the milk has been spilt and the child has disappeared with the bath water, I can think of far worse examples of the use of synthetic instruments than that by Papa Basse in these tracks. It is like Super Diamono was attempting to invent a new vocabulary with this album. A vocabulary where the synthesizer would not sound out of place, totally superfluous and an economic alternative to something much better (i.e. usually a horn section).
In the opening track "Yamatée Née Law" the guitar, the voice of Omar Pene, even the well-tempered sax (after 2'07), they are all held together by the organ and synthesizer. The song is languid, moody almost, and the synthesizer and organ are major contributors to this feeling.
The effect is slightly different in the second song, "Indu Waad", also a ballad. The synth sauce is counterbalanced by the subtle guitar, which only just manages to save Omar Pene's voice from tipping over into the dramatic. Drama does prevail in the title song of the album, "Geedy Dayaan". In this song Omar Pene is the star of the show. His voice brilliantly goes from desperate to consoling, from tragic to loving. Please note too Bob Sène's careful guitar playing.
Of the three other (more mbalax style) songs on this album I particularly like "Muugn". Not so much for the synthesizer, which I find more irritating than on the other songs, but for the fact that Super Diamono demonstrates that the band can also make good songs without or with just a little bit of synth.
In this second commemorative post I am going back to the start of Franco's O.K. Jazz. The three EP's I would like to share were released in the early 1960s, but the songs on these were recorded between late November 1956 and August 1957.
All of these songs have been - at some time - released on CD, so you may wonder why I am posting them. The answer is actually quite simple: I think the sound on these EP's is better. And I don't mean that these EP's are flawless. On the contrary, I would described the state of the vinyl as mediocre*. There is a steady crackle on all these three Extended Play records. Nevertheless, the definition of the music, of the instruments and the singers, is - in my opinion - better than on the CD's.
Essous & Rossignol in 1957
This 'definition' is immediately noticeable in the first song of the EP with the title "O.K. Jazz No.2". This song, "La Fiesta" (here "La Fiesta-Tcha-Tcha-Tcha", probably copied from the labelling on the HMV shellac), features singer Vicky Longomba backed by Philippe Landot a.k.a. "Rossignol". Just on the voices there is clearly more definition: Rossignol's voice can be distinguished far better and is positioned behind Vicky's in the sound image. But an even greater difference can be heard in the sound of the maracas. This instrument no longer sounds muffled. Also that wonderful clarinet, played by Jean-Serge Essous (see this post), is more more '3-D' than on the CD, which even further enhances the part of this song after 1'24 which I see as one of the climaxes in the Essous' work with the O.K. Jazz.
Unfortunately there are very few of those. And this is not so much due to the lack of talent on the part of Essous, but entirely to the fact that on January 1, 1957 he (and Rossignol, plus drummer Saturnin 'Ben' Pandi and Paul Ebengo better known as Dewayon) left the O.K. Jazz and Editions Loningisa for the new created Esengo label. So this was exactly 5 weeks after recording "La Fiesta" and the A-side of this 78 (Loningisa 160), "On Entre O.K., On Sort K.O.", which by many - and in my opinion erroneously - is considered to be the first track by the O.K. Jazz. My guess is that this has to do with the HMV catalogue, in which "On Entre O.K., On Sort K.O."/"La Fiesta" is the first record (HMV 1001). The tracks recorded at the Loningisa studio were sold on to His Master's Voice. There are even a few tracks which were only released on HMV.
Going by the recording dates the first record by the O.K. Jazz (founded June 6, 1956) is Loningisa 154 "Makambo Mayiza Mazono" (recorded June 20, 1956), with the tell-tale B-side "La Rumba O.K." (recorded on June 21, 1956). Both these songs, composed by Franco, are on Crammed Disc CRAW 7, which also contains Loningisa 157: "Tika Kondima Na Zolo"/"Meya Te, Kaka Elamba". And, in case you are still convinced that Loningisa 160 was the first release by the O.K. Jazz: Loningisa 158, recorded in July 1956, features another Franco song entitled "Bana O.K. Jazz".
To me the best tracks of Essous with the O.K. Jazz must be the two on the A-side of the second EP, which carries the rather anonymous title of "Congo Rhythm". These two tracks, "Alliance Mode Succès" and "Tongo Se Elangisa" (both composed by Dewayon), were recorded just days before Essous and Rossignol departed, on December 24 and 27. The interplay between Franco and Essous in these songs is just brilliant, and makes me wish the cooperation between these two Greats would have continued for much longer. It is clear that this interplay was the basis for the - almost hallmark - interaction between Franco and Isaac Musekiwa, the sax player who in the early part of 1957 came over from Kabasellé's African Jazz to fill the gap Essous had left.
I assume the song "Alliance Mode Succès" is one of many paying tribute to a female association (and I suppose this must have been "La Mode"**). Rossignol encourages the members of the association to show their dancing skills, calling them one by one.
"Tongo Se Elangisa" is my favourite song of Vicky singing with Rossignol. Rossignol is singing lead, with a touch of the dramatic (it is a bolero); and Vicky shows great control in backing him in an understated manner.
More songs from 1956 can be found on the third of these EP's. Something appears to have gone terribly wrong with the title of this EP, as the trademark slogan "On entre O.K., on sort K.O." has been 'corrected' into "On Entre O.K., On Sort O.K.". It is unlikely that the correction was intentional, as even the opening track of this EP, the A-side of "La Fiesta" (see above), has been changed.
The two songs on the B-side of this EP were composed by Essous. As with the songs on the other EP's, both "Lina" and "Se Pamba" sound more open than the CD-versions, which also makes it easier to distinguish Franco's antics in the background.
After the departure of Essous, Rossignol and Pandi new members were recruited. Vocalists Edo Nganga and Célestin Kouka joined the young orchestra, and Nicolas Bosuma a.k.a "Dessoin" was attracted to replace Pandi. No doubt provoked by the serious competition from the new orchestras and temporary groupings on the Esengo label, the O.K. Jazz progressed at an incredible rate.
Also new with the O.K. Jazz was Antoine 'Brazzos' Armando. He had played with Vicky at Editions CEFA in the mid-1950s. There he worked with Belgian (jazz-)guitarist Bill Alexandre, who in 1955 introduced the electric guitar into Congolese music. Bill Alexandre named Brazzos, in an interview in 1992, as the best guitarist of the era. I am not sure what the precise grounds were for this qualification, or if this was in any way influenced by the fact that they cooperated at the CEFA label. Nor do I have any idea if Mr. Alexandre was aware of the full extent of the competition. Fact is, however, that Brazzos played a crucial role in the evolution of the O.K. Jazz, - if only for his compositions.
For, to be honest, Brazzos' role as an instrumentalist within the O.K. Jazz is still a bit of a mystery to me. As I mentioned, he joined the O.K. Jazz in 1957 as a rhythm guitarist, left the orchestra at the end of 1959 to join Kabasellé (and Vicky) as a bass player at the Table Ronde. And when he returned a few years later (again with Vicky), his place as an accompagnateur was taken by Lutumba Simarro and Franco was well on his way to establish himself as the undisputed star of the orchestra.
In the time between his arrival at the O.K. Jazz and his departure for African Jazz Brazzos composed 20 songs for the orchestra, and all of these are veritable gems. His first record was "Na Banzaki Angelu"/"Nde Okobanza" (Loningisa 181 / HMV 1027) and his second was "Tcha Tcha Tcha De Mi Amor"/"Yaka Nakoki Te" (Loningisa 189 / HMV 1045). These last two songs can be found on these EP's. "Tcha Tcha Tcha De Mi Amor" is the first in a line of killer cha-cha-cha's, which with the O.K. Jazz were usually not very far from a boléro. Franco is at it and restless like a caged animal, while the rest of the orchestra remains relatively sedate and seemingly undisturbed. In "Yaka Nakoki Te" Franco seems more controlled, but this control is deceptive.
I am sure I'll get back to Brazzos and his contribution to the early O.K. Jazz at a later date.
I leave you to evaluate the remaining four tracks from these three EP's by yourself. The two most 'recent' of these, "Nakolela Mama Azonga" and "Ah Bolingo Pasi", were composed by Vicky and were recorded on August 21, 1957 and released as Loningisa 198 (HMV 1054). Edo Nganga's "Taxi Avalon" was released on Loningisa 192 (HMV 1048). And I am sure you recognise "Aya La Mode" (Loningisa 194 / HMV 1050) from the compilations in which this compositon by Franco has been included, - unfortunately in most cases out of context and seriously compressed and/or otherwise mangled. In the version on the EP you can still hear Brazzos' understated rhythm guitar, which Franco uses as a line to set his exclamation marks.
*this the equivalent of what those online sellers of vinyl label "NM", - which I, naively, believed to mean "near mint", but should be interpreted as either "slightly worse than anything in your own collection" or "exposed to a pre-school playgroup"....
** and that reminds me: I am still waiting, with considerable anticipation, for the documentary which Vincent Kenis, Césarine Sinatu Bolya and others have made about the 1950s Congolese music scene, in which these associations play an important role.
I had intended to finish this post last Saturday, July 6, as it was the date on which Franco would have celebrated his 75th birthday. But both the warm weather here in the low countries, plus work and (especially) social obligations have prevented me from completing this task.
So almost a week late, I would like to commemorate this true giant of African music, a giant who despite his huge influence on African and - through this - world music in many respects remains completely unknown to the general public in large parts of the world, by sharing two selections from his work.
The first of these is the album "Chez Fabrice à Bruxelles" which was released on the Edipop label in 1983.
In my experience this is an album that not many people will mention when summing up their favourite works by Franco and his T.P. O.K. Jazz. This is a pity, but not for the most obvious reason.
The most obvious reason being that this is the album that contains the first (almost 19 minutes) track combining the vocals of Franco and Madilu System: "Non". This combination would prove hugely successful in the following years, with the albums "Très Impoli" (POP 028, 1984 - with "Tu Vois?", which is probably better known as "Mamou") and, of course, "Mario" (CHOC 004 and CHOC 005, both from 1985).
To be honest, I am not a great fan of the (also late) Madilu. While I understand the reasons for his popularity, my preferences are with other singers.
But, as Ntesa Dalienst put it in an interview in 1990 (parts of which have been posted by Aboubacar Siddikh on his YouTube channel), in the last years of his life Franco composed songs for the voice of Madilu. According to Ntesa, this choice must be seen in the light of Franco's continual endeavour to incorporate other popular Congolese styles into the music of the T.P. O.K. Jazz. From 1973 onwards he had (no doubt helped by the position he had obtained both within the music 'business' and in relation to the political powers of - then - Zaïre) attracted singers from the African Jazz school of Congolese music (Sam Mangwana, Josky Kiambukuta, Ntesa Dalienst and others). Ntesa names "Non" specifically as a song intended to integrate the style of Pepe Kallé.
While Ntesa stated that the love for this music style was Franco's main motive, I suspect that commercial motives must have played a role. And especially as Franco was trying, in 1983, to gain access to the American and European market and wanted to use the broadest possible scope of Congolese music to do so.
At the same time Franco did not want to lose any of his popularity with his Congolese/Zairean public. So he continued to address them on issues which can best be described as 'everyday issues'. "Non" is a mix between a love song and a song about a social topic. In short, the song is about a girl's refusal to marry a married man. Seen from a current, western perspective the lyrics are blatantly sexist, even verging on misogynistic. Whether this means that Franco can be described a misogynist is, however, not as obvious as it may seem. A lot of Franco's songs describe opinions held by (a larger or smaller part of) the Zairean public. In many cases they do not necessarily always represent Franco's personal view.
Getting back to the album, I find the A-side musically more interesting than the B-side. This side contains two tracks, "Frein à main" and "5 Ans ya Fabrice". I don't know the lyrical content of the first song, apart from what appears to emanate from the title (a "frein à main" is a handbrake, and I assume Franco is not referring to the handbrake in a car).
The second song is a sequel to a song from 1980, simply called "Fabrice". It is a continued ode to the tailor in Ixelles, Brussels frequented by Franco and some of his musicians and staff.
There is a third ode to the same craftsman, "Fabrice Akende Sango", which was released after Franco's death on Sonodisc CD 6981, and which also features Ntesa, but this time with Sam Mangwana, - and not with Josky (as in this version). Sadly the Franco's absence in the post-production of that last version is very noticeable....
I like the A-side not just for the solid chorus, but also for the complex arrangement. Perhaps not as classic as "A l'Ancienne Belgique" from 1984, but well en route to that peak in the 1980s repertoire of the T.P. O.K. Jazz.
Over the years I have found that a lot of listeners have problems distinguishing Franco's guitar in the melee (or - if you like - mêlée) of guitars. In "Frein à main" and "5 Ans ya Fabrice" his guitar is on the far right of the stereo image (e.g. 7'15 into "Frein" or 10'36 into "Fabrice").
I have refreshed a few of the links that have 'died' in the course of time.
In chronological order:
2008: - that seminal cassette by Abdoulaye Diabaté & le Koulé Star from Koutiala. An absolute must for lovers of that classic Malian orchestra sound, if you ask me (and such a lovely inviting cassette sleeve too..).
- the cassetteSuper Biton released a few days after the last 'old style' Biennale in 1988. My guess is they thought they had a chance of winning. A good optimistic attitude in general, but in this case not very realistic... In hindsight not a bad cassette though.
- the EP by G.G. Vikey. Still nice. And I have managed to dig up a copy of the front sleeve!
- the recordings of the RTG (Guinée) of the Super Sanankora Sofa de Kérouané. I am in the process of redigitising the video, and Graeme Counsel has also posted a few videos by this orchestra on his YouTube channel.
- perhaps one from the category "holiday slides", but I don't care: the accordion I recorded in Trinidad, Cuba.
- the zany lp by Orchestre Micky-Micky. Congolese music recorded in Nigeria always has that special something, as you perhaps know from all those great Tchico albums that Moos at Global Groove. And this Micky-Micky one is especially special.
- one from heavy-weights of T.P. O.K. Jazz fame: Josky Kiambukuta, Madilu and Malage de Lugendo's lp "So.Pe.Ka.". A classic which will surely get you wiggling.
- volumes 2 and 3 from the series "Les Plus Grands Succès", originally recorded for Ngoma (see Flemming Harrev's discography on http://www.afrodisc.com/). I will come back to these records in the next few weeks.
- by the legend from Sierra Leone, Salia Koroma, his cassette #40. At the Lola Radio blog you can find more from the same 'batch' of cassettes.
- and finally, from Zimbabwe, two cassettes by the Marxist Brothers.
You may have noticed too that I have uploaded a slightly improved version of the legendary Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe's "Festac Explosion Volume 1" a month or so ago.
If you find any more links that have expired, please let me know and I will replace these.
Although still at a 'tender age' I have consciously lived through the era of the twist. I have vivid memories of aunts making a total fool of themselves. And of us - the children - giggling, and subsequently being sent out of the room. I even remember cautious efforts at executing the dance (and 'executing' is a good description..) in an early attempt to show that I was "with it".
I have to admit I was puzzled (to say the least) when I found out - a few decades later - that this dance had been copied in several African countries (see also this post). A dance which conjures up images of awkward, even embarrassing body contortions by oversized humans, being performed in countries where dance and rhythm was an integral part of life? Why?
A key to an answer was given by Franco. In an interview in 1987 he pointed out that Africans have no problem in integrating influences from other continents. He himself was a great fan of 'musique slow', by which he meant a large repertoire varying from soul ballads to entertainment music from films and such. The fact that Africans took aboard influences was not a problem, according to Franco. The real problem was that the broad public in the US and Europe make no attempt to get to know the music from Africa.
Unfortunately, little has changed in the 26 years that have passed...
This brings me to the subject of this post. But with a twist.... For in looking for a digital version of the sleeve* of this lp (which I copied to cassette sometime in the 1980s) I was struck by the constant references to the fact that a group from the UK had covered a song by this artist. One could easily get the impression that Daudi Kabaka's only contribution to the welfare of mankind has been that "his song "Helule Helule" was covered by The Tremeloes and () became a hit in United Kingdom" (wikipedia).
Luckily there are others who manage to stay away from justifying the mention of an African artist by how he or she can be linked to the western world. I particularly like the article by Douglas Paterson, which highlights Kabaka's career from an African perspective.
If you ask me Daudi Kabaka has done more by singing songs like the delightful "Kiliyo Kwelu" and the slightly hyper "Jela Kubwa Na Viboko" than by allowing an english band to copy bits from a somewhat boring "Helule Helule".
It has been quite a lot of work collecting the material for this post. In all I have spent nearly six months going through unlabelled videos, looking for what I was sure I had recorded. I was dangerously close to giving up when I found it, on a tape with varied recordings from local television (when it still existed...), hiding behind a disappointing documentary on Sunda music.
These songs are taken from a film entitled "Faja Lobbi" from Dutch cinematographer Herman van der Horst. The full film/documentary can been seen here. And I can certainly recommend it, if only for the absence of any form of commentary (and that's usually the part that irritates).
Although I had seen this film in the 1970s I was not aware that the title "faja lobi" (or "lobbi") referred to a flower, and that this flower is (or was) the national flower of Suriname, the south-american country which until 1975 was a colony of the Netherlands*. Up to this day the first thing that comes to mind with "faja lobi" is .. well .. plant-related, but not of the flowery kind. I tend to associate "faja lobi" with spicy peanut soup, - of the type that burns a hole in the lining of your stomach and which I used to eat 'con mucho gusto' (until it did...).
There is more.
For the former Dutch record company Philips also released an EP with music of Big Jones and his Kawina Band, i.e. the artist featured in the film.
The second track, "Ala pikin nèngre", is the first song in the video.
I will refrain from making superfluous remarks about the African nature or origins of this music....
* It is actually slightly more complicated. Suriname was a colony from around 1667 until 1954, when it became an independent part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The last ties were cut on November 25, 1975.
I have updated a few videos. First I have collected all I have of the programme "L'artiste et sa musique" featuring the (unfortunately late) queen of kamalen ngoni music Coumba Sidibé into one video:
This is really all I have of this absolutely legendary performance. But I am still hoping, of course, that one day someone will come up with more and/or in a better quality.
Secondly I have redigitised the video of Oumou Sangaré's song "Yayoroba", to which I was referring in the last post. And I have added a second song, which you will no doubt recognise as "Saya Magnin". The dancer I was referring to comes in at about 8'50...
And finally, as a bonus, I am adding a video of less than a minute of a rare version of "Djama Kaissoumou", a song which was one of Oumou's first hits and featured on the cassette which launched her into stardom. Again, it's all I have.....
This post is mostly intended to draw your attention to this remarkable video posted on YouTube by Ngoniba:
And if, like me, you can't get enough of these videos, please look around for more on Ngoniba's Youtube channel. Here is one to help you on your way.
The principle star of these videos is, of course, Mariam Bagayogo. You may remember the video I posted a few years ago. As I mentioned then, besides the singing and the balafons accompanying her I was particularly fascinated by the dancing. And, having watched Ngoniba's videos a few times, I am again fascinated by the intricate dancing in these videos.
It is no secret that dance is at the core of a lot of (if not most) music in Africa. When I first started interviewing Malian artists in the 1980s I was struck by the frequent use of the word "rythme" when they were talking about songs. It soon became clear to me that this was not accidental, but that rhythm and music are the same thing, or part of the same thing. And that rhythm also meant dance. Talking to Daouda 'Flani' Sangaré and Alou Fané, who had both been dancers with the Ballet National du Mali, I learnt that all the dances have a meaning, as does the rhythm. A dance can carry a message, like "I fancy you" or "I respect you", or can - for example - be used to underline the dancers' identity as part of a group, family, caste etcetera.
When it comes to dances there still are many misconceptions with the 'general public' in the western world. "African dances" often are seen as very exhuberant, with arms and legs flapping all over the place, and - preferably - with loud djembe drumming. Fortunately, most dances are not like this, and are actually very controlled and wonderfully subtle. I remind you of that fantastic dancer in the Oumou Sangaré video I posted earlier, or Alou Fané's delightfully understated dancing in this video.
The movements of the dances by Mariam Bagayogo also do not conform with the general idea of "african dances". Look at this video by Mariam from 1986 for example (another one from Ngoniba):
The flexing of the knees, the step: dance and music are one.
EDIT May 12, 2013: Ngoniba has sent me a link to a recent and very interesting article on Maliweb about Mariam Bagayoko. In this article she talks about her career and about her situation at the age of 70. Apparently she has taken over the care of the 17 children and 4 wives of two of her brothers who have passed away. Her message to Malian readers is that they should follow in the footsteps of their elders, i.e. respect the traditions.
EDIT September 22, 2013: I have had to remove the link to the article on Maliweb, as the site appears to be hacked.
After more than 23 years of making radio programmes I am seeking new ways to share my passion for African and Latin music. My intentions are 100% non-commercial.
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