NEW YORK, NY Feb, 1999 TIBET HOUSE BENEFIT CONCERT Tibetean New Year Celebration Performers will be: Tery Anastasio Cibo Matto Shawn Colvin Philip Glass Nawang Khechog/Peter Kater R.E.M. Patti Smith Foday Musa Suso and Chaksam-Pa The Tibetean Dance Company
Foday Musa Suso is a Mandigo griot (the hereditary musician/oral historian of West African Mandigo people) and a virtuoso lora player, drummer and composer. He was born in Sarre Hamadi, The Gambia, and began training with his father in the stories and musical recitation of the Mandigo epics as soon as he learned to talk. He has lived in the U.S. since 1977. Mr. Suso is the founder of the Mandigo Grioty Society and released an eponymous album featuring the American jazz musician Don Cherry as guest artist. Several albums later, Mr. Suso was approached by the 1984 Olympic Committee to create, with Herbbie Hancock and Bill Laswell, the official theme music for Field Events. Mr. Suso latest albums are New World Power and The Dreamtime, contrasting electronic, hard-hitting dance tracks (New World Power) with an all-Suso traditional tour de force (The Dreamtime). He has performed with the Kronos String Quartet in England, Germany, Austria, at Summer Stage un Central Park, and at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. He continues to work in both ancient and cutting edge venues and is an integral part of African music's continuing evolution.
NEW YORK, NY WEEKLY, OCT 26 1996 By Bradley Bambarger
ELLIPSIS ARTS ADDS GRIOT MUSIC TO GLOBAL REPERTORIE Mapping the world of music with a combination of affectionate scholarship and savy marketing. Ellipsis Arts has intorduced consumers to sounds from the farthest reaches of the globe. Over the past four years, the label has issued definitive boxed sets of flamenco and accordian music, as well as intriguing book/CD surveys of Moroccan and Pygmy traditions, among many others. Amid a flurry of fall and early winter releases, the latest Ellipsis Arts project is one of the label's most accomplished and accessible to date. "Jali Kunda: Griot Music of West Africa," released Oct, 15 features traditional and progressive interpretations of Gambian and other griot forms by renowned composer/kora master, Foday Musa Suso. Promnent figures in North and West Africa socities, griot are musical storytellers, passing down the histories of families and events from generation to generation in song. In form and function, African-American blues has its roots in the minstrel quality of griot music. West African ensembles employ a variety of string and percussion instruments, with the harp-like kora taking the pride of place. "Jali Kunda" documents the "griot family" of yesterday and today with a CD and 96 page book in a deluxe package. In addition to putting together groups of indigenous musicians to document traditional songs, Suso collaborated with composer Phillip Glass, saxophonist Pharo Sanders and producer Bill Laswell on pieces that meld West African music with classical minimalism, free-jazzand funk. JALI KUNDA: GRIOTS OF WEST AFRICA. Foday Musa Suso, master of the harplike kora, directs this celebration of the itinerantwest African bards who share history through song. Musicians from Senegal Guinea-Bissau join Suso in 15 eerily beautiful tracks of soulful plucking and rhythmic drumming. Philip Glass on piano and former John Coltrane sideman Pharoah Sanders on tenor sax lend a dash of New York avant-garde. LOS ANGELES TIMES DAILY LOS ANGELES, CA FRIDAY, JAN 3, 1997 By Don Heckman
'JALI KUNDA' Takes Journey
MIAMI HERALD MIAMI, FL DEC 1, 1996 By Howard Cohen
Jalis or, in the French, griots, are wandering troubadours, oral 'historians, chroniclers and praise singers who, while low in the social hierarchy, have long been respected in West African societies as repositories of tradition. In recent years, the West has become intrigued with their work and role. Some of it is due to modern griots such as Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour or Gambian kora (harp) player Foday Musa Suso. In other cases blues artists, jazz artists and rappers have claimed them as ancestors and peers. Exquisitely packaged, Jali Kunda includes essays. By Suso, Aruirl Baraka and Robtert Palmer, interviews with Philip Glass and saxophonist Phaorah Sanders(both collaborate with Suso in separate tracks) and a mesmerizing 15-track CD that includes both traditional and modem examples.
Long Island, N.Y. January 13, 1991 Suso's African Fusions By Martin Johnson
FODAY MUSA SUSO is one of Africa's best known musicians and musicologists. If you've never heard of him, that should tell you how little we yet know about the continent's music despite a growing interest in the subject. Suso, a Gambian who plays several instruments, first came to the United States in 1975, and, during the brief pre-"Graceland" groundswell in African music in the early '80s, he gained recognition along with Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Manu Dibango. Suso's folksy, meditative kora playing, done mostly with his group, the Mandingo Griot Society caught the attention of Herbie Hancock, and the two collaborated on "Village Life," a Columbia release that proved how little record companies understand world music or jazz (the record was marketed as a pop follow-up to Hancock'g "Rockdt"). The project gained Suso wider and also left him moved by Hancwk's music. He formed a group c&Ue4 Mandingo, which produced music that was more western pop than African submerge its inner in Ad. Otherwise it tends pop, but in its mili of drums and drum -.qnchines toward arty New Age music. it presaged a lot of the layered peon Suso's musicological work is found on "Ancient found in contemporary black pop. Heart" (Adom), which offers the music of two Gambian ethnic groups, the Mantiinirg and the Fulani. Philip Glass and Suso recently worked together, and a minimalist influence is obvious on Suso's fourth recording, "Dreamtime" (CMP). of THE MANDIGO are are to Suso the folk-song structure that use's kora tend to so's pleasant, lilting kora and bawon play evoke, he builds, through the wonders of multi. The Fulani tracks alone are worth the tracking, a dense weave of kom and balafon lines price of admisdon. The music builds spare that revel in their repetition. Fans of Glass' ruled by a nyanyer, which sounds "Dances 1 & 3" would be shocked by the similar-like played violin. The combination sounds As if a caravan has pulled up in your living room to. To a degree, Suso's efforts repatriate the Third party, and the atly off-kilter beats will make you World styles Glass appropriates for his music, but forget the sand on the rug. The Balinese Gambian-via-New-York fusion makes Marhn Johnson is a free for interesting music only when it's dense enough to World Music Institute, Inc. 155 West 72 Street Suite 706, New York, N.Y. 10023, Telephone: (212) 362-3366
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3,1986
melodies, cascading strums, cross- timed balafon accents. And above the Concert A Gamnbian instrumental melodies were vocals, Mixed Bill some in short phrases like Western lullabies, others recalling the long lines of Arab music. The words, in the New Yorker Heard Says ex- Mandingo language, usually tell sto- ceptionally varied concert of music ries, carry news and historv or praise from Gambia in West Africa, on Thurs- patrons. day at the Wellington, Square Church. Solo griot songs have plenty of There have been a number of solo counterpoint, but with three players concerts here by Gambian griots, they became almost luxuriant, their singers who accompany themselves hypnotic repetition overlaid with a oil the kora (harp-guitar); this time wealth of improvisatory details. The the griot Foday Musa Suso was joined final griot song had a closing coda, by by his uncle, Surakata Suso, on bala- Foday Musa Suso, that used an en- fon (xylophone) and vocals, and his tirely different idiom - speed-demon cousin Mahamadou Suso on second runs, new harmonies and shimmer- kora - lending the music even more ing strums. depth and intricacy. Along with the griot songs, there As in solo griot songs, the Susos was other Gambian music. Foday played twinkling, gently rocking pat- Musa Suso played a solo on the susaa, terns of notes-plucked on the koras, a one-stringed gourd fiddle, with tapped on the balafon - that might jaunty melodies and phrasing akin to remind Western listeners of music the blues. And he joined his uncIe for boxes or of Steve Reich's minimalis- exuberant, explosive duets on balafon tic pieces (many of which use a West and talking drum. Africa-style xylophone pulse). In and around the patterns, there were improvisatory flourishes - added By Jon Pareles
Jali Kunda Griots de L'Afrique de L'Ouest et d'au-dela
Aujord'hui avec les 15 etas qui la composent, L'Afrique de l'Ouest est L'un des pays les plus prouctifs du contient avec des musiciens de renommee internationale comme: Youssou a N'Dour de la Baaba Maal du Senegal, Alpha Blondy de la Cote d'Ivorire, Salif Ketia et Ali Farka Toure du Mali, Manu Dibango du Cameroun, King Sunny Ade et Fela Kuti du Nigeria, etc. En Afrique de L'Ouest, le Briot ou Jali est plu qu'un musicien, c'est une sorte de sage dont le role est de recenser les histories, legendes et autres A travers les generations pour que la tradition subsiste. Ne en Gambie, Foday Musa Suso est de cette lignee; a 18 ans il etait deja un maitre du genre, voyageant a travers L'Afrique et L'Europe pour offrir les divers rythmes de son Afrique natale. Dans les annees 70 il vint s'etabilr aux USA et forma "La societe Mandigo des Griots" une fusion de rythmes Africains, jazz et rock & Roll qui pava la voie du "Jali Kunda" sa collaboration avec, L'avant-gardiste classique Philip Glass, le saxophoniste Pharoah Sanders et le Funk de Mandigo, sans oublier la contribution du ritique muscial Robert Palmer et du poete Amiri Baraka dont les recherches approfondies sur L'influence des Griot dans la culture afro-americaine, specialement le blues et le rap, out permis la sorite-du-succulent Jali Kunda.