CD recommendation: Sibiri Samake (Mali) – a musician, sage and donso hunter

Artist: Sibiri Samake
Title: Dambe Foli
Label:  Kanaga System Krush
Genre: Malian traditional music

Independent record label Kanaga System Krush (K.S.K.) released this fall Dambe Foli. Sibiri Samaké’s second and long-awaited album featuring traditional Mande/Bamana Hunters’ music.

About the musician

Sibiri Samaké (b. 1962, Fadiobougou, Mali) a musician, sage and donso hunter was from a young age introduced to the old world Mande traditions of the hunters’ society as well as to music. His father, Djomadje Samaké was both a blacksmith and by end of his 115 years, a Grand Master Donso hunter for 107 villages. Blacksmiths as well as hunters are revered and play a prominent role in Manding history and society. Samaké’s musicality can also be attributed to his mother, Nango Bagayoko, acclaimed as one of the best singers found in Djitoumou and its surroundings. Samaké began playing the Donso’s harp, a musical instrument called the Donso N’goni in 1973. During the eighties he performed, acted, sang, danced and toured with the Troupe Théâtrale Bamako. He has belonged to this mystical and fiercely protected tradition of the hunters’ society for more than three decades. Their alchemical traditions mean that he is well versed as a traditional healer, a renowned fortuneteller and Komo owner. Samaké’s musical talents extending beyond playing Donso music include composing and arranging his own songs. In 1995, Samaké released his first CD, Musique des chasseurs Sébénikoro. Dambe Foli, meaning traditional music in Bambara, is his second album. Sibiri has collaborated on several fusion projects in Europe as well as with Bill Laswell who recently remixed Sibiri’s music for a K.S.K. film trailer. He has toured much of the African continent and has performed in both Europe and the Americas. His music harks to his formidable presence and talents, a man not to be taken lightly.

About the music

Samaké, the lead instrumentalist on the traditional donso’s (hunter) harp, the donso n’goni plucks gritty, complex riffs that easily rival the best Western bass players around. This long-necked stringed calabash resonator has been dubbed by New York music experimentalist Bill Laswell in The Guardian & Observer, “as one of the world’s essential bass sounds.” Alongside, Samaké’s urgent yet drawing vocals in his native tongue of Bambana and true to the African tradition of call and response music, Samaké is accompanied by back-up vocals from fellow musicians Sumayla Fofani also on the donso n’goni and percussionists Ibrahima Diakite on the karinya (iron-metal scraper) and Kadiatou Samaké on the kusubu (shaker).

About the label

Kanaga System Krush (K.S.K.) is an independent record label, operating on a fair-trade principle, focused on the preservation and promotion of traditional music from West Africa. By bringing this music to the world market, K.S.K. is opening new channels to an old tradition, as well as providing direct support to the carriers of this ancient knowledge. K.S.K. and acclaimed producer Oz Fritz have produced and released nearly a dozen albums over the last five years, most notably Lobi Traore’s career-topping electric live set Bwati Kono.

“Music in Mali” TEASER from Kanaga System Krush on Vimeo.