World Music  Afrika  Mali
Idrissa Soumaoro Diré MRBML02-019 CD
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FormatAudio CD
Ordering NumberMRBML02-019
Release date22/09/2023
  • AMADOU BAGAYOGO (Amadou et Mariam) (track Yélé): Guitar
  • MAHAMOUDOU ‘ASSABA’ DRAME: Djely n’goni, n’goni ba
  • SOUNGALLO DIARRA: Balafon, percussions
  • Soumaoro, Idrissa: Lead Vocal, guitar, kamalen n’goni
  • YAO DEMBELE: Bass, keys, back vocals
  • YVO ABADI: Drums, percussions

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      Description hide

      ‘Diré’, Idrissa Soumaoro new album, comes as a surprise to Malian and international audiences. Composer, singer, guitarist and master of the kamalen n’goni Idrissa Soumaoro presents here a beautiful collection of songs on his third album, Diré, named in honor of the town where he met his wife and where his first daughter, who is no longer with us, was born.

      In 1971, after his studies at the INA in Bamako, Idrissa was transferred to Diré to teach music at the lPEG (Pedagogical Institute of General Education). He was 22 years old when he arrived in Diré. Idrissa has always been nostalgic for this beautiful place in the 333 Saints of Timbuktu region. As Idrissa sings in ‘Diré taga’ (Going to Diré), the track that opens the album, the city evokes deep emotions for the artist, as if it were a long-lost friend or lover. Celebrating the memory of the city of Diré leads the artist to retrace stories and lived situations that marked and animated him in years gone by: ‘I really miss the people, the colleagues, the friends and that period. Despite the time that has flown by, I would ardently wish to see Diré again’. Today, at the difficult time Mali is experiencing, remembering the city of Diré in the 1970s also means for the artist not giving up hope for peace: ‘The memory of Diré, a beautiful town in northern Mali, strengthens my hope for peace, union and real independence for the happiness of my people’; as he sings in ‘Sababou’, ‘Without hope, there is no life. Together we will succeed’.

      The ten highly original compositions of the album are strongly based upon traditional music of Mali, but Idrissa’s life experiences, travels, education, collaborations and personal musical career have led him to compose and perform music with other influences. As Idrissa quotes: ‘My inspiration generally comes from the donso n’goni, a Bambara instrument played by and for hunters throughout Mali. This is a pentatonic instrument, similar to the blues exported to the USA by black African slaves. I’ve also spent so much time playing a variety of music that my music also reflects rumba, salsa (as well as Bamanan blues and a few derivatives: jazz, country, soul, rhythm and blues) etc. I have looked for and hope to have found my own form of expression from these influences’.

      Throughout the album, his strong, clear voice sings in French, Bambara and English. It rides seamlessly upon a complex rhythmic sea of distinctly West African stringed instrumentation and percussion with accents of flute and balafon. There are keyboards in a few songs, but these, happily, do not dominate the music as we hear so often in today’s music. This album presents the music of a mature artist who has ‘been there, done that’ and returned to celebrate his country, his roots and his dreams in a flawlessly produced collection of songs of love, reassurance, fatherly advice and hope.

      The album already has a long history: it was initiated in 2012 by Marc-Antoine ‘Marko’ Moreau, former producer and manager of Amadou and Mariam. Moreau had plans to produce the album and invited Idrissa Soumaoro to start recording in Manjul’s studio in Bamako. When Moreau suddenly passed away, work on the album was still missing. The pandemic still added time for the production to continue. With the help of Climax Orchestra, arrangements and orchestrations were finalized in France. At the artist’s behest, ‘Diré’ will finally be presented to the public by Mieruba, the independent label based in Ségou, the home of the blues in Mali. ‘Let’s stand together so that Mali can flourish’: from conception to production and distribution, this is the message that ‘Diré’ carries.

      About Idrissa Soumaoro:

      Idrissa Soumaoro was born in 1949 in Ouéléssébougou, a small town 75 km south of Bamako in Mali. His brother-in-law, with whom he discovered his first modern guitar, was the headmaster of the primary schools he attended. Little Idrissa fell in admiration of the qualities of this outstanding teacher, who would influence his professional future. During his school holidays in Bamako, Idrissa would wander around with his friends in lively places like the bus station and the area around the cinema. Enthralled by this urban hustle and bustle, the young rural boy discovered and was charmed by instruments such as the harmonica, the flute and the timbo. Back in the village after his holidays, he borrowed his brother-in- law’s guitar and tuned it to the sound of the n’goni. Between the ages of fifteen and sixteen, while he was preparing for his basic school-leaving certificate, Idrissa formed his first group, Djitoumou-Jazz de Ouéléssédougou, and every Saturday night he played at the local dust ball, which soon became the main event for the whole region.

      In 1968 he entered the Institut National des Arts in Bamako and during his studies he recorded songs for ORTM Télévision nationale. It was during this period that he wrote his song ‘Ancien combattant’, which was later covered by the Congolese artist Zao. After graduating from the National Arts Institute in Bamako, he became a teacher in Diré, then in Bamako. A teacher by day and an artist by night, Idrissa continued to perform on various music stages, eventually joining the Ambassadeurs du Motel alongside Salif Keïta and Kanté Manfila, and befriending the blind Amadou Bakayoko. In 1978, following the break-up of the legendary Bamako band, he asked to be seconded to the Ministry of Health, with the idea of going with Amadou Bakayoko to provide musical support for students at the Institut National des Aveugles in Bamako and to raise public awareness of the need to empower the visually impaired. In the early 1980s, he set up an orchestra called ‘Eclipse’ because the group was made up of sighted and blind people (like light and darkness, like the duality that makes up the world). In 1983-84, the sighted members left the group and it took the name ‘Miriya’ (thought in Bambara): the place was left exclusively to blind musicians and singers led by Amadou and Mariam as lead singer. In 1984, thanks to this initiative, he was awarded a scholarship to study Braille musicography at Birmingham University.

      When Idrissa Soumaoro returned to his native Mali in 1987, in addition to his university degrees, he had the Elisabeth Williams Prize from the Royal National College and Academy of Music for the Visually Impaired in Hereford in his briefcase. He held various positions of responsibility before being appointed Inspector General of Music at the Ministry of Education in 1996, a post he held until his retirement in 2011.

      In 2003, after 34 years in the music world, he released ‘Koté’, a 14-track album produced by Syllart Productions, Idrissa’s first real commercially released work. In 2010, he released another album, ‘Djitoumou’, featuring the track ‘Bèrèbèrè’ with Ali Farka Touré, a song that became famous as part of the soundtrack to the film Black Panther. ‘Diré’, his third album, comes as a surprise to Malian and international audiences, who will not be disappointed by the quality of the work. Today more than ever, his lyrics, which dream of a fair world and a society based on solidarity and use humor to paint a picture of society, need to resonate throughout the world.

      Tracklist hide

      CD 1
      • 1.Dire taga06:17
      • 2.Kalata02:50
      • 3.I djidja04:17
      • 4.Kassi03:44
      • 5.Bi fourou02:25
      • 6.N'den tedi03:56
      • 7.Don't worry04:06
      • 8.Sally02:32
      • 9.Sababou04:07
      • 10.Yele04:01
      • Total:38:15