|Susso, Alhaji Papa / Sotuma-Sere|
|Add Date:||2004-03-29|| ||Pull Date:||2004-05-31|| ||Charts:||Reggae/World|
|Week Ending:||2 May|
On the surface, this is yet another album of 7 tracks with old man vocals + cool stringed instrument: a combination found aplenty in the “world” aisles of most music stores. For me, though, it was the terrific liner notes by ethnomusicologist Roderick Knight (who also happens to be Susso’s student) that set the album apart. There is nothing I can add to Knight’s description, so I’ll just highlight the things I found most remarkable in his notes. PLEASE read the notes before playing the CD. Pick any track and play away. |
Some Random Facts:
- Susso plays the “kora”, or harp lute. I find it quite marvelous how he uses his two courses of strings to produce patterns that contain both melodic outlines, and harmonic bass lines (see liner notes for a technical description of the kora).
- Susso belongs to a lineage of musicians and oral historians (known as the griots) who have passed down the recitations featured here since the 13th century. Again, its really interesting to see how most songs here started out being religious incantations or prayers, but added ore mundane things (such as lines added specifically for certain African kings or politicians!), making them a true oral testimony of African history.
- Jaliyaa, the opening track, provides a reference to Susso's Islamic faith in the opening line, and celebrates the hereditary institution of musicianship. But Susso extends the traditional song with lyrics composed for the first president of post-independent Guinea, Sekou Touré!! To these, he adds recitation, sataro, sung in a rapid, descending line (see page 9).
- The second song, Sunjata, celebrates Sunjata Keita, the leader who unified the Mande people back in the 13th century. The long third song, Kaira, is a mid-20th century composition by Teneng Sory Kouyaté, a Guinean griot. The fourth track, Tabara, is about a mid 20th century female singer named Tabara Njai. Track 5, Bani (“say no”) is a revolutionary song. Track 6, Tutu, honors a son of an ex-king of Mali. Track 7 is a story of a chieftancy contest from the early 20th century.