Keletigui et ses Tambourinis: The Syliphone Years: 1968 - 1976

Chris May By

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Keletigui et ses Tambourinis
The Syliphone Years: 1968 - 1976

In Memoriam: Keletigui Traore: 26 May 1934 - 11 November 2008

The fourth release in the Sterns label's series anthologising Guinea's tradition-rooted "authenticite" bands of the 1960s and 1970s follows close on the death of its illustrious subject. The tenor saxophonist, flautist, organist and vocalist Keletigui Traore, who did much to shape the authenticity movement and who led one its most inventive bands, the Tambourinis, died aged 74 in autumn 2008. Though to say so might suggest a suspension of objectivity in the wake of Traore's death, it is, in fact, no exaggeration to say that The Syliphone Years: 1968 - 1976 is to date first among equals in this outstanding series.

The Syliphone Years: 1968 - 1976 is a double CD, like the three earlier volumes in the series: the various artists introduction Authenticite: The Syliphone Years (Sterns, 2007), Bembeya Jazz National's Hits And Rare Recordings: The Syliphone Years (Sterns, 2007) and Balla et ses Balladins' The Syliphone Years (Sterns, 2008). The first of these reviews, Authenticite: The Syliphone Years, looks at the authenticity movement in some detail.

The two discs include some two and a quarter hours of music, from the recording debut of the band in the mid 1960s, when it was known as Orchestre de la Paillote, through its renaming as Keletigui et se Tambourinis later in the decade, and on to the title track from its last studio recording, "La Retour," in 1976. Along the way it includes seven tracks from the band's chef d'oeuvre, Keletigui et ses Tambourinis (Syliphone, 1972). "Mande," a track from that album, is on the YouTube clip below. Many of the 32 tracks have never been released on CD before.

Though the Tambourinis' line-up was packed with innovative and accomplished musicians, the band's success was due in large measure to the playing of Keletigui Traore himself. A muscular tenor saxophonist who combined a broad, vocalized, vibrato tone with an attractively lyrical improvising style, Traore also played sprightly, Cuban-influenced flute and was a fine vocalist and organist; he was the first bandleader in Guinea to use the keyboard, which he frequently arranged alongside the country's traditional wooden xylophone, the gourd-amplified balafon. Whatever the instrumentation for a song, Traore's arrangements were fresh and imaginative, combining roots instruments, rhythms and songs with jazz and Cuban musics, and featuring an exceptional, close-harmony horn section.

Other engaging soloists in the Tambourinis include electric guitarist Linke Conde and saxophonists Bigne Doumbia and Momo Soumah. The percussion section is drawn from the cream of Guinean roots musicians, including balafon player Lansana Diabate and hand drummers Keletigui Kourouma and Papa Kouyate.

Like its series predecessors, The Syliphone Years: 1968 - 1976 comes with a well researched and informative 44 page booklet, including original record covers and band photos. It does its subject proud.

In 2009, the Tambourinis continue to perform every Saturday night at Conakry's La Paillote, the club where Keletigui Traore forged their style some 45 years ago.

Tracks: CD1: Sabougnouma; Marianna; La Guinee Moussolou; Fruitaguinee; Kadia Blues; Famadenke; Cigarettes Allumettes; Djoute Wassa; Kesso; I Boyein-Boyein; Tambourinis Sax Parade; Quinzau; Il Tomatero; Banankoro; La Loma De Belen; J.R.D.A. CD2: Guajira Con Tumbao; N'Nadia; La Bicycletta; Ilole Gbanina; Tambourinis Cocktail; Kiss My Nose; M'Bongi Eyi; Bebe; Talassa; Donsoke; I Dyoolaro; Mande; Bakary-Dian; I Kanan N'Djanfa; Kabakele.

Personnel: Keletigui Traore: tenor saxophone, flute, organ, vocals; Linke Conde: lead guitar; Sekou Conde: rhythm guitar; Kerfala Camara: vocals, trumpet; Momo "Wandel" Soumah: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Bigne Doumbia: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Lansana Diabate: balafon; M'Bemba Dioubate: bass guitar; Manfila "Dabadou" Kante: vocals, bass guitar; Digui Toure: percussion; Kaba Sylla: drums; David Camara: drums. Additional personnel: Keletigui Kourouma: congas, percussion, bass guitar; Papa Kouyate: congas, percussion, vocals; Labile Camara: congas, percussion; Moussa Kouyate: bass guitar; Kande Sylla: second rhythm guitar; Souraka Camara: drums; Benjamin Diawara: congas, percussion; Talibe Traore: trumpet; Gontran Maka: trumpet; Mamdouba Niassa: trumpet; Laine-Ce Sangare: vocals; Ange Miguel: vocals; Babadian Kaba: vocals; Abdul Karim "Chuck Berry" Camara: vocals; Boseily Keita: bass guitar.

Photo credit: Judith Burrows



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