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Meeting Aly Keita is a great opportunity to discover what being “passionate about music” really means. When Aly speaks or plays music, he shares his enthusiasm with those around him, with a glimmer of a dream in his eyes. Always smiling, he communicates his joie de vivre and energy to each and every person.

 This Ivorian has many reasons to smile: the latest is his first completely solo album Akwaba Iniséné, released just a few weeks ago and already in the Top 20 of the European World Music Charts.

 

This album pays tribute both to the country he grew up in, the Ivory Coast, and his country of origin, Mali. “Akwaba Inisene” means the same thing in Baule and Malinke: Welcome to Africa. Descended from a family of musicians, Aly Keita grew up surrounded by traditional instruments like the djembe and the kora. But his favourite instrument became the balafon, which he made with his own hands as a young man, and which he has played ever since, to shine alongside the very best: Omar Sosa, Rhoda Scott, Etienne M’Bappé, Linley Marthe, Paolo Fresu, Paco Séry, Trilok Gurtu, Hans Lüdemann, and Joe Zawinul...

 

 All these encounters have greatly influenced the writing of this album, without Aly ever forgetting his roots: the album also includes the first song his father taught him to play on the balafon. “Today, I write freely according to my lived and shared emotions, according to my spiritual inspiration, according to my feelings of love, joy, pleasure and energy,” explains Aly, who with this album has successfully achieved with the finesse that typifies him, the perfect balance between tradition and modernity.

 

The album “Amen” by Salif Keita was the very first Aly bought, so it’s not surprising that the king of balafon would like to start a project with this artist. And Aly Keita has many dreams. Among them is the desire to raise awareness of the balafon around the world. To realize this dream, he worked with the German percussionist, composer and, of course, fellow balafon player, Gert Kilian, in whom he found an ideal partner. Together, they set up the project “Aly Keita & the Magic Balafon”, which took them to the land of Aly’s father, from Konsankuy to Mali, for the realisation of a DVD released in June that narrates and explains the balafon. Just as this project is complete, Aly has plunged into another: to conquer the Spanish public with the Norwegian saxophonist Jan Gabarek.

 

“I want my music to be alive and energetic, full of hope and love, music that I can share with the public and through which the public and I can share our joy.”

Indefatigable, Aly Keita continues his journey towards perfection and originality, to the delight of this audience that he respects so much.

"Akwaba Iniséné"

"Farafinko"

"Across the Oceans"

"Timbuktu"

Kélétigui Diabaté

   Akwaba Iniséné

 

First, let’s examine the sound of this balaphon...


Aly Keïta sometimes makes lace, in the style Mozart played on a glass harmonica, and sometimes takes us into the bush to discover initiation rhythms. Above this, floating with a certain melodic tenderness is the saxophone of Pierre Vaiana, extremely comfortable on this journey. And when the rhythm section comes in, the sensual bass of Manou Gallo superbly wraps around the polyrhythmic drums of Boris Tchango.

 

Then comes the cherry on the cake, the intense voice and feline suppleness of Dobet Gnahoré. This is the voice of all Africa, which joins Togo, Ivory Coast, Mali and Belgium, uniting everything each musician carries from his own physical and musical journey: know-how, a sense of listening, and a clear idea of what living and vibrant popular music is.

                    

"Farafinko"

 

The Balafon of Aly is first of all a work of art. Of some manners, Aly is " king " of the all right musical regulation: he(it) personalized his(its) wooden instrument by adding resonators of gourd different from size(cutting), making him(it) look like no other one. In its compositions, Aly speaks about the everyday life, the orphans and the mothers and man's shame...

 

The musical translation is the one of a virtuoso of mallets. Aly becomes the part(party) of her instrument, the affectionate with the tenderness, the striking with the strength and in the high speed. He(it) expresses the joy of life by his art in his first album of solo.

 

 

                                 

 

"Timbuktu", the CD title and the name of the capital of Mali has two meanings for the participating musicians and for many people on Earth.

 

On one hand, the city stands for the rich heritage of Africa on many cultural levels, including music, and on the other hand for violence and chaos. The musicians were confronted with sad reports from Timbuktu at the time of recording the CD.

During rehearsals, Aly Keita took up a figure that conveys the feeling of the music from the north of Mali. A piece developed from there in a playful and improvising way, which was then named "Timbuktu" as was the complete CD later.

 

Trio Ivoire has succeeded impressively from their beginnings in 1999 until today to interweave the music culture of West Africa with "Western" music, above all jazz, without sacrificing anything in one or the other or even compromising one of the two.

 

A new "Third Stream" is almost created from African rhythmic and melodic elements and the style of jazz. The result does not seem forced or an attempt at cheap sensationalism at any point.

Kélétigui Diabaté fait partie de ces musiciens de l'ombre qui ont "fait" la musique malienne.

 

De l'orchestre National aux Ambassadeurs en passant par ses collaborations avec Salif Keita et Habib Koité, sa guitare a participé à la transition du traditionnel à l'électrique. Multi instrumentiste, il a excellé singulièrement dans l'art du balafon.

 

En 2004, sort ce qui restera le seul album de cet artiste africain trop peu connu du grand public et pourtant tellement présent. Kélétigui nous a quitté le 30 novembre 2012, à l'âge de 81 ans.

 

Ceci est un hommage à ce grand maître de mon instrument, le balafon.

 

Un cd incontournable !

 

 

                                 

In concert @ Espace Senghor - Brussels (April 2011) - 31 minutes

Recording of the cd "Farafinko"

 

Studio Contre-Jour

@ Vodelée

(June 2010)

 

"Farafinko"

 

Concert  Acoustic Africa (versus 3 )

@ Africa Festival

 

Wurzburg June 2013

 

"Thriller"

Tribute to Michael Jackson

.

Aly Keïta & Friends in concert place @ Flagey Place  Brussels

 (July  2009)

"Michael"

 

Concert Acoustic Africa (versus 3)

@ Couleur Café

 

Brussels July 2013

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