Famoro Dioubate and Africa America, Thursday, February 7, 10PM at the Lily Pad at 1353 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, (617) 395-1393, $10. (http://www.lily-pad.net/) Famoro Dioubate and Africa America featuring West African master musician Famoro Dioubate from Guinea on balafon (African xylophone) and voice, legendary jazz drummer Ra-Kalam Bob Moses on drums, composer, guitarist and singer Bouba Diabate from Mali, West Africa, and local greats Jason Davis on bass and Kenny Kozol on percussion and vocals. Not many musicians can claim an 800-year musical legacy as balafon (xylophone) master Famoro Dioubate can. From one of the most prestigious families of griots (musician/storytellers) in Guinea, West Africa, Dioubate is a guardian of traditions dating back to the 13th century in the ancient Mandé Empire.
As a child in Guinea, Dioubate was recognized to be a prodigy. Encouraged by his illustrious grandfather El Hadj Djeli Sory Kouyate (who at age 95 remains a living legend of the instrument), Famoro emerged as one of the most exciting young players in the country. By his grandfather’s side, he was soon performing with the prestigious Ensemble Instrumental National (a national symphony of traditional music) directed by El Hadj. “My father and mother come from Kakande,” explains Dioubate. “I first went there when I was a kid. I loved to go there to play music with all the people in the forest. Some would play guitar, some would play the n’goni (5-7 string lute), some the kora (21-string harp-lute). In the morning there was always music, and at night they would sing.” Today, Dioubate is a unique artist in this form; keenly aware of the tradition he was born into, yet eager to reshape As legend holds, the balafon (xylophone) appeared magically in the forest almost a thousand years ago where it was discovered and guarded jealously by mighty sorcerer-king Sumanguru Kante. Eventually it was re-conquered by the founder of the Mandé Empire, Sundiata Keita, who bequeathed it to his griot, Bala Fasseke Kouyate to play and protect.