Radiodiffusion Internasionaal Annexe


Super Boiro Band
November 22, 2009, 9:54 am
Filed under: Guinea

Sibida

On 28 September 1958, the French government held a referendum on a new constitution. The colonies of the French colonial empire – except Algeria, which was legally a direct part of France – were given the choice between immediate independence or retaining their colonial status. Guinea chose independence, the only colony to do so. Thus, Guinea became the first French African colony to gain independence, on October 2nd 1958.

The first state orchestra to form after the country’s independence was Orchestré de la Garde Républicaine. Under the new government’s Authenticité policy, the group was “instructed to drop their European march tunes for music befitting the new nation”. The orchestra eventually split into two groups – Orchestré de la Garde Républicaine 1ère and Orchestré de la Garde Républicaine 2ème – whose only recorded output was a split album released in 1967. Orchestré de la Garde Républicaine 1ère later changed their name to Super Boiro Band.

The band took their name from the Camp Boiro prison, where may of the members had been guards. Members of the band included trumpeter and manger Mamadou Niaissa, vocalist Sane Camara and guitarists Karan Mady Diawara and Mamady Kouyaté. Mamady Kouyaté would later go on to resurrect Bembeya Jazz in the 1990s, and recently he formed Mamady Kouyaté & The Ambassadors.

Super Boiro Band’s first album was released in 1972, and their first single was released the following year. They released two more singles as well as their second album in 1975, and one more album in 1976 as well as appearing on the compilations Discothèque 73, Discothèque 74 and Discothèque 75. The band later changed their name to Super Flambeau, but never released any recordings. The single featured here was the last single that Syliphone released.

Catalog number SYL 574 on Editions Syliphone Conakry of Guinea, released 1975.



Kélétigui et ses Tambourins
October 12, 2008, 8:40 am
Filed under: Guinea

Miri Magnin

In Guinea, President Ahmed Sékou Touré‘s effort to be rid of all things French produced an amazing roster of A-list talent. The bands cranked out a mix of Manding agit-prop infused with Cuban rhythms and popular Congolese rumba. It was a union blessed by Toure and his political pal Fidel Castro.

The French turned Guinea into one of their most lucrative colonies, establishing a head tax to force Guineans to farm peanuts, fruit and coffee and to harvest rubber, an important resource for France up until the 1920s. Resentment against the French was especially strong in Guinea following the colonial era. Guinea became independent in 1958, the first African nation to do so. A former labor leader and the mayor of the capital, Conakry, Sekou Touré became the president, and under his leadership, the nation voted overwhelmingly not to participate in Charles de Gaulle‘s Franco-African confederation. The price for this act of defiance was high as France retaliated by cutting off aid and support and recalling technical workers. Touré pursued a policy of “positive neutralism” during the Cold War, but with France leading the chorus of nations condemning Touré as a communist, most of his help came from the Eastern Bloc.

Soon after Guinea’s independence, the 25-piece National Orchestra had so many members that they decided to spilt into two bands: l’Orchestre de la Paillote under the direction of Kélétigui Traoré, played in the La Paillote nightclub, and l’Orchestre Jardin de Guinée under the direction of Balla Onivogui, playing in Le Jardin de Guinée. Later the bands were renamed, becoming Kélétigui et ses Tambourins and Balla et ses Balladins.

Manfila Kanté Dabadou, who was the lead singer of Kélétigui et ses Tambourins came from a very musical family. His cousin Soba Manfila Kanté played guitar in Balla et ses Balladin, and two more cousins, Kanté Manfila and Salif Keita, played in the Rail Band from Bamako in neighboring Mali.

Catalog number SLP 45 on Editions Syliphone Conakry of Guinea, released 1974.



National Horoya Band
June 24, 2008, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Guinea

Karan-Gbegne

Karangba

The National Horoya Band was from the West African nation of Guinea.

Guinea was created as a colony by France in 1890. The capital Conakry was founded on Tombo Island in the same year. In 1895 the country was incorporated into French West Africa. On 28 September 1958, under the direction of Charles de Gaulle, Metropolitan France held a referendum on a new constitution and the creation of the Fifth Republic. The colonies, except Algeria, which was legally a direct part of France, were given the choice between immediate independence or retaining their colonial status. All colonies except Guinea opted for the latter. Thus, Guinea became the first French African colony to gain independence, at the cost of the immediate cessation of all French assistance.

After independence Guinea was governed by the President Ahmed Sékou Touré. Some called Touré was considered a “Mao-style” socialist, while others called him a dictator. He applied his command-economy beliefs to the arts as well as to trade and agriculture. Under his leadership, Guinea joined the Non-Aligned Movement and pursued close ties with the Eastern Bloc.

Prior to the Guinea’s independence, most of the musicians working in Conakry’s top nightclubs and hotels were Europeans, playing French and American show tunes and dance music. Guinean musicians were found lower down the economic ladder, in neighbourhood dancehalls, but they too played a repertoire mainly made up of waltzes, foxtrots and Latin American dance tunes. The names of the leading Guinean bands – La Douce Parisette, L’Africana Swing Band, Le Harlem Jazz Band and Les Joviales Symphonies – speak for themselves.

Within months of achieving power, Sékou Touré’s Ministry of Culture disbanded all European-style bands in the country and directed their musicians to “return to authentic African rhythms and tunes”. The policy was called ‘Authenticité’ and Touré backed it up with state sponsorship of newly formed national and regional bands as well as the state owned record label Editions Syliphone Conakry. There were regular festivals at which the regional bands competed for national status. The best bands were awarded with the title Orchestre National and had the possibility to travel to Cuba to learn more about Afro-cuban music. At its peak, the state supported seven national bands.

‘Authenticité’ notwithstanding, the music played by the national and regional bands included some non-Guinean elements. Ghanaian highlife was a signifcant influence – E.T. Mensah And His Tempos Band toured Guinea within a few weeks of independence and were rapturously received – as was Cuban music, so hardwired into Guinean music, from which it largely derived, that even Touré couldn’t expunge it (and following the Cuban revolution of 1959, he probably felt he didn’t need to anyway). A little later, Congolese rumba was another heady infusion.

Woven into these imported influences was traditional Guinean music, uniquely rich in polyrhythms, mainly of the Manding and Foulah peoples. The synthesis was cool and loose-limbed, a relaxed but insistent dance style played in the main by ten-piece and bigger line-ups featuring vocals, three or four electric guitars, horn sections, balafons (xylophones), kit drums and traditional percussion.

After the death of Sékou Touré, this State support came to an end, concerts became rare and money for recording was not available anymore. Many bands eventually disintegrated as working conditions deteriorated.

Formed in 1961, the Horoya Band de Kankan won the best orchestra prize in 1967, 1968 and 1971 at the Quinzaine Artistiques Festival. They were nationalised in 1971. The band was led by Métoura Traoré (although for this single, both songs were written and conducted by Lansina Kanté). They recorded two albums and a handful of singles between 1969 and 1974, as well as a number of compilation appearances under either the name Horoya Band, Horoya Band National or National Horoya Band.

The majority of the information for this posting came from Chris May’s review of the compilation Authenticité: The Syliphone Years Guinea’s Orchestres Nationaux & Federaux 1965 to 1980 on Sterns Music which features the song “Karan-Gbegne” (which translates to ‘Maninka Whip’, the martinet of Koranic school teacher).

Catalog number SYL 546 on Editions Syliphone Conakry of Guinea, released 1972



Sextet Camayenne
June 24, 2008, 7:37 pm
Filed under: Guinea

Kanimba

Sextet Camayenne were from the African nation of Guinea.

Guinea, officially the Republic of Guinea (French: République de Guinée), is a nation in West Africa, formerly known as French Guinea. It borders Guinea-Bissau and Senegal on the north, Mali on the north and north-east, the Côte d’Ivoire on the south-east, Liberia on the south, and Sierra Leone on the west. Its territory encompasses the water source for the Niger, Senegal, and Gambia rivers, with a coastline facing the Atlantic Ocean. The name Guinea (geographically assigned to most of Africa’s west coast, south of the Sahara desert and north of the Gulf of Guinea) originates from Berber and roughly translates into ‘land of the blacks.’ It is sometimes called Guinea-Conakry per its capital to differentiate it from the neighboring Guinea-Bissau (whose capital is Bissau).

I have not been able to find any information, except that they released one other single and later became the 14 piece band Camayenne Sofa.

Also as I mentioned back when I posted the song by Balla et Ses Balladins, I don’t know what kind of fuzz pedals they had access to in Guinea at this time, but it doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve ever heard…

If you have any further information, please contact me.

Catalog number SYL 562 the state run Editions Syliphone Conakry, République de Guinée, released 1974.



Balla et Ses Balladins
June 23, 2008, 12:43 pm
Filed under: Guinea

Samba

Balla et Ses Balladins were from Guinea.

Guinea, officially the Republic of Guinea (French: République de Guinée), is a nation in West Africa, formerly known as French Guinea. It borders Guinea-Bissau and Senegal on the north, Mali on the north and north-east, the Côte d’Ivoire on the south-east, Liberia on the south, and Sierra Leone on the west. Its territory encompasses the water source for the Niger, Senegal, and Gambia rivers, with a coastline facing the Atlantic Ocean. The name Guinea (geographically assigned to most of Africa’s west coast, south of the Sahara desert and north of the Gulf of Guinea) originates from Berber and roughly translates into ‘land of the blacks.’ It is sometimes called Guinea-Conakry per its capital to differentiate it from the neighboring Guinea-Bissau (whose capital is Bissau).

Below is an attempt at translating the French liner notes from the back of the record sleeve (using the Google translator):

First national formation Guinean with launching the songs and folk dances African, “Balla et Ses Balladins” produce a more elaborate music, richer in the rhythmic fitting. Wrongly or rightly, one them called “intellectuals” of the African music of Guinea, because of the severe meticulousness which they bring to the orchestration and the execution of each title of their punished repertory. In their obsessional research of the perfection, the “Balladins” go until proposing two or three different interpretations of the same piece.

“Samba” (Face A), presents an unquestionable consonance with the “Rythm and Blues”, however it is popular very widespread in Wassoulou. The merit of the “Balladins” is to have taken it again, and especially to have left the support on the neck with Sekou Diabate – Doctor, whose guitar pluri-octave makes this sensuality melody and rhythmic of the organ electronic.

I don’t know what kind of fuzz pedals they had access to in Guinea at this time, but it doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve ever heard. Sextet Camayenne, who were also from Guinea, used a similar sounding fuzz pedal (may have even been the same guitarist) on their song “Kanimba”.

Catalog number SYL 545 on the state run Editions Syliphone Conakry, République de Guinée, released 1972.




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