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Ballaké Sissoko

Ballaké Sissoko

Ballaké Sissoko
@ the Rich Mix, London
21 November 2013

Click an image to enlarge.

Biography

The sound of Ballaké Sissoko’s 21-string kora identifies him, along with Toumani Diabate, as one of the best kora players of a new generation of musicians in Mali. His concerts with Taj Mahal's Kulanjan project brought him international attention.

Sissoko is the son of Jelimady Sissoko, grand master of the Manding kora, a harp with twenty-one strings whose crystalline sound has won over audiences world-wide. With his ‘big brother’ Toumani Diabate, the son of Sidiki Diabate, another illustrious figure of the jeli (oral historians and musicians) tradition, Sissoko is considered one of the best kora players of the new generation. He first learned the instrument very early on at his father’s school. At the age of 14, he replaced his father in the Ensemble Instrumental National and by the late eighties he was also playing in the electric bands of the most famous jelimuso.

He remembers the difficulty of initially playing with virtuoso guitar players like Bouba Sacko and Jeli Madi Tounkara, who had picked up the techniques of the ngoni but also used western scales and rock riffs. Rising to the challenge, he was the first local kora player to master western modes and still provide the rhythmic structure to accompany the dance steps of the singers. Simultaneously following different melodic lines with his thumbs and index fingers, Jeli Moussa’s playing combines a bass accompaniment, the harmonic progressions of the rhythm guitar and intricate solo improvisations. Jeli Moussa works regularly with Kandia Kouyate, and together they toured the USA, Europe and Australia.

After performing with the prestigious Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali, and accompanying many Malian singers, he came to fame by performing solo or in duet with Toumani Diabate, Taj Mahal and a host of other musicians. In the 1980s, Malian kora music was once more revolutionized when Jeli Moussa Sissoko (called Ballaké Sissoko) and Toumani Diabate, the sons of Jeli Madi Sissoko and Sidiki Diabate, introduced chord progressions played on the guitar into their father’s repertoire.

Open to every new adventure and encounter, Ballaké Sissoko is a gifted instrumentalist who, inspired by tradition, was able to forge a personal style. A visionary figure and fine melodist, he is an excellent accompanist and superb composer.

Ballaké Sissoko

Ballaké Sissoko

Ballaké Sissoko


Recommended
Listening

 

Rajery, Ballaké Sissoko, Driss El Maloumi - 3MA (Madagascar, Mali, Maroc) Deli Ballaké Sissoko Vincent Segal - Chamber Music

 

Further
Recommended
Viewing

Click the image below to see Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal @ the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre in 2010 ...

 Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal  @ the Purcell Room (click to go to this page)

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