Album Description

Field recordings of a xalam and Riti duo from Diourbel, Senegal About ten years before these recordings were made, I decided to apply for a fulbright to record xalam players in Senegal. I had visited the country once before, in 2000, over a three week period in the spring, between sessions at an English Language school in Rabat, Morocco, where I was teaching, and I was trying to figure out a way to return and pursue lute music of the kind I'd heard on recordings from not only Senegal, but also Mauritania. I figured if I could just get back
there...Anyhow, despite some serious help from ethnomusicologists vouching for my project and help from a Wolof language expert, I, like 4000 of the 5000 folks who applied for Fulbrights that year, was denied. Somehow, 13 years and many other travels later, I got to return, and due to a Peace Corp volunteer connection in Diourbel, was able to quickly set up a session with the two musicians heard here. Anyhow, Guissee, a xalam master who lived in Mbacke, right outside of Touba, and Ka, a Pulaar herdsman who played the Riti, a classic herdsman instrument, happily set up for me while I made audio and video of their performance. To heck with the Fulbright, I suppose. Who needs it. You can hear how Ka seems to struggle a bit early on with Guissee's choice of melody and key, but on the two tunes where Ka leads, they mesh quite well. And then there's the solo work, which I'm happy they were willing to do, as Adamma Ka's playing comes into its own. Also, I separated tracks based on subtle rhythmic shifts that signaled a new tune, so it may seem as if they stop mid groove unless one listens to the tracks in order. As far as the music itself, it appears that these are structured traditionally, but the lyrics are loose enough to include whatever situation might be occurring currently, hence their asking me my name in track one, so they could include me in the song. Unfortunately, the audio can't capture the intense smile and eye contact Adamma Ka gave while playing. He was really proud and I believe they were both delighted that I wanted to hear them and their music specifically, and that I had essentially flown over the Atlantic to do so. I made other recordings on this trip, including one of Touba's most internationally known religious vocalists, who just happened ot be performing in a counrtyard to a small, fanatically devout audience in Touba, as well as a fantastic guitarist/singer in Bambey, but it was Guissee and Ka that I wanted to hear. Brief video clips can be found here and here



01. Bruce Miller - track 1 00:05:33

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