#Article (Archive)

The Sotokoto band is back, featuring kora king Jaliba Kuyateh

Aug 16, 2013, 11:19 AM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

This is Jaliba from The Gambia, a man of music and king of the kora sound. He was known as the Kora Boy, singing in small groups and parties and at the same time attending school, playing kora and learning the trade of the music business in Banjul in the shadows of Ifangbondi Band.

He found his way to Senegal and Guinea Bissau singing River Gambia kora-blues.

He travelled from The Gambia abroad to London, Paris, Amsterdam and the United States and everywhere he played the people would applaud.

He gained international fame in Amsterdam where he played at the African Music Festival in the Paradiso with other major African stars.

He is a great singer known as the “Kumareh bird” because of his silky voice. Without his singing, playing and dancing, the kora music would not have been the same. From this time on he had no other name than Jali, a noble role as a griot ordained by the community and respected by all.

He is the driving force of the Gambian music scene and a man who made the instrument of kora well known in the world from Gambia.

Jaliba advanced the kora sound mixing it with modern European and American instruments.

He became the driving force of contemporary Manding music by making the kora sound a unique brand of contemporary music that appeals to Bilues & Jazz lovers, funky ambient, Urban and even Kora Hip Hop.

If you listen to the song Bantaba, in which he duets with Karin Patterson, this tune has an irresistible American brand of funk with the English glowing voice of Karin and the flow of the tingling kora sound, which give the industry a new music of cultural diversity.

Jaliba performs his show both plugged with an 6-piece band from Africa and unplugged sessions with international artists like those who played on his worldly–global sounds albumKora Dance including: Don Grusin, a veteran GRP Jazz pianist, played with Miles Davis, Bill Summers (percussionist for Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock, Larry Williams of Michael Jackson worked on Thriller and a pianist for Al Jerreau, Gary Herbig who played sax solo on Stevie Wonder & Beyonce hits, Leon Ware (Backing vocals for Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye ) Karin Patterson (Backing Vocals for Tina Turner), Armand Sabal Lecco, bass player for Sting, Manu Dibango, Peter Gabriel, Celin Dion and others, Ousman Beyai & Nyaw Nying (former Ifangbondi, Omar Camara (Jaliba Percussionist), Jimmy Earl played bass with Chick Corea and Toshi Yanaga lead guitar for Toni Braxton, LA & Baby face.

The sound of the kora is a harp-like sound and sometimes sounds like a guitar. This African instrument is an original instrument from West Africa from the country called The Gambia.

The Gambia was a part of the former Manding empire of West Africa in the 1600s. The instrument was used for accompanying poetry readers, kings’ parades and war preparation.

The music is inspiring and the songs carry messages of faith, strength, history and genealogy. The kora carries a lasting value for the people of Gambia and their heritage.

Jaliba Kuyateh has toured France, the USA, Portugal, England, Holland, Sweden, Norway and most of West Africa.

Jaliba Kuyateh has been appointed a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF for his service and benefit concerts to raise funds for community projects, social awareness and cultural education.

His band consists of hardworking musicians who have played with him for over a decade. They play Mandingo drums blended with Jazz drumming and spiced with hand percussion of various bells, bamboo and calabashes.

The album Kora Dance is a stage show of two hours with dancing and singing girls from The Gambia and an all-star band direct from Africa known as the Kumareh. The Kumareh is a singing bird found on the banks of the River Gambia in West Africa.

The Civilizing power of music as described in the Orphic symbolism charmed the beast, perverted the soul from all manner of injury, and even softened the heart of the god of the dead.

To live without music is to die without peace but to be enriched by its gentle persuasions to find god and beauty everywhere Only the heart that knows the beautiful, and the hand that serve god and the mind that has contemplated the nature of the One supreme cause can be united to the advancement of the human estate.

Jaliba Kuyateh is a legend in his lifetime. He is one of the great living luminaries of Gambian music. His whole life has been dedicated to playing music and he is solely responsible for the introduction of Gambian kora music to millions of people outside The Gambia and he has elevated the prestige of Gambian music in the music world.

For this, his name will go down in letters of gold in the history of world music.

The Kora Dance CD is available on sale @ the KEREWAN SOUNDS in Banjul. Get the CD and make Gambia music proud. The album is an achievement for every Gambian.

Produced and Arranged by Oko Drammeh © on Sotokoto music label, Hollywood, USA.