Feb, 1999

Tibetean New Year Celebration

Performers will be:

Tery Anastasio
Cibo Matto
Shawn Colvin
Philip Glass
Nawang Khechog/Peter Kater
Patti Smith
Foday Musa Suso
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.



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.



                 'JALI KUNDA' Takes Journey

Ellipis Arts, A New York-based terial, usually in disciple relation- company, has produced some of ship with a father or uncle. Still, the most consistently rewarding the resonance between Griots and world music albums. Virtually American blues performers is in- every release is given careful teresting, and clearly in need of consideration, not just in terms further examination. of the music, but in the packaging. The Suso package includes a The latest album, "Jali Kunda: beautifully produced book filled Griot Music of West Africa and with gorgeous, full-color photos Beyond," is a fascinating, combined and his thought about African life book/CD box surveying the role of and the role of the Griot. The CD is the Griots-perhaps best described equally intriguing, including tradi- as minstrel-historians-in African tional Griot music-rich with the music. ("Jali" is another term for sound of the music's primary in- Griot, and the title literally strument, and the multi-stringed means "home of the Griot.") Kora-and contemporary takes on the The heart of the project is a music using electronic instru- memoir by Foday Musa Suso, a ments. On one track, Suso reveals Gambian Griot who has lived in the yet another view of Griot music United States for the past two written and performed with com decades. In the Griot tradition, a poser-pianist Philip Glass. On social caste of musicians retains another, he plays an atmospheric and transmits a region's history improvisation with avant-garde through music and song. An anal- jazz saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders ogy with American blues singers is Information: (800) 788-6670. obvious, and many Griots are as itinerantland mysterious as the traveling blues singers of the 20's and'30s in this country. But there are differences too. For one, Griots are obliged to learn a vast amount of historical ma-

;nbpc& T -

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




                                           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.



Winter 1991/92

Return To Home Page