To any connoisseur of West-African music the title of this post must at least sound familiar. And I am sure most will recognise it as the title of a classic album by Bembeya Jazz National, in which the legendary singer Aboubacar Demba Camara recounted the epic story of Sekou Touré's grandfather, Samory Touré, and his heroic struggle against the French colonial oppressors. The album was released twice on the Syliphone label, or three times if you count the live version recorded in Abidjan.
The success of the Bembeya tale provoke a lot of orchestras to follow the Regard formula, and evoke tales of other glorious and heroic pasts. The Horoya Band had its own versions with "Tunyalee" and "Boloba", and the Dirou Band follow suit with "L'Arbre Eternel".
The formula soon caught on in other countries, and more particular in the country with which Guinea shares culture and a large part of its history: Mali. Soon Malian audiences too were glowing with pride on hearing the musical accounts of the intrepid endeavours of Great Ancestors like Soundiata Keita, Da Monzon Diarra and Bakari Dian. I have been assured that most of these epics have never made it to vinyl (and certainly not the many regional versions).
But the great version of the epic of Bakari Dian, gloriously performed by Biton National de Ségou and masterfully recorded at the Radio Mali, did, - and was released on the first lp of Mali's own Mali Music label*.
Besides Biton the lp contains tracks by the Rail Band, the Orchestre de Gao and two tracks by the Tjiwara Band de Kati. Of these the track by the Orchestre from Gao offers another link to the Guinea of Sekou Touré with a song in the Regard style about the attack led by Portuguese officers on Novembre 22, 1970.
The Rail Band song is an ode to the band's founder and sax player, Tidiani Koné (see this and further videos).
The two tracks by the Tjiwara Band can perhaps not compete with the superior standard set by Biton and the Rail Band, but have become -over time- historic proof of the overall high level of Malian orchestras.
Mali Music Mali 1001
*"Da Monzon", albeit a comparatively short version, was also released on the Orchestre Régional de Ségou lp released on the Bärenreiter-Musicaphon label. I will post a version of this without the irritating applause later.
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