With my head in jazz under Dakar’s stars, I remembered the psychedelic chatter and sounds that exalt the winter nights here as I travelled through different parts of Africa to wild rhythms.
Instead of the salsero of Africando, I preferred the Guinean griot Sékouba Bambino and his famous “Kassa”, and Sidiki Conde, the paraplegic singer and dancer who deals in both the profane and the mystical. In Mali, I let myself be carried away by Habib Koité and his companions from Bamada, as well as the Malian Fatoumata Tounkara, who, using her father Djelimady’s guitar, asks for forgiveness from ‘the beloved of Bamako’. I knocked at the door of N’gou Bakayoko and ended up bewitched as I experienced the art of Sali Sidibé.
Back in Dakar, I listened to the griot of Podor, Mansour Seck, Baaba Maal’s sidekick. In Saint-Louis, Senegal, I followed in the footsteps of griot and virtuoso korist Ablaye Cissoko. Then, I headed to Ghana for a trip with Osei Korankye, the master of the seperewa. Perhaps a bit of bikutsi in Cameroon with Roger Bekono? Then, back to the late 80s, I opted for a ballad in Lingala from the Congolese M’Bilia Bel. I even went into the 70s, to dance to the highlife Igbo rhythms of Celestine Ukwu and Chief Oliver de Coque – he of 93 albums! I even found some jazz – that of Batsumi, a South African band, who in 1974 recorded this bewitching “Itumeleng”. Add to all that the zest of some Ethiopian music with the great Mulatu and the Abyssinia Band. Before leaving, another diversion to my home, in Guinea, with L'Orchestre de la Paillotte and Balla et ses Balladins.
So here are some of the pieces that rocked me during my winter nights under the Dakar stars. These voices and sounds continued to twirl in my head until I found myself back in Paris, this time under autumn stars. Autumn is a multicoloured season, psychedelic and wild, much like this kind of music: skies of grey and blue; leaves of green, orange and brown; rain and wind. Quite a patchwork. And not to mention the great mix of warmth, softness, and freshness. A torrent of changing weather, like the fluctuations of the heart that make the instruments vibrate.
Settled under the duvet, with an infusion of verbena at hand, I am about to watch Bertrand Tavernier’s Round Midnight, a film of rain, of greyness, of hoarse voices worn by the weather and by the autumn of life. I’m watching this film but I don’t (yet) hear its music because the delirium of timeless rhythms are still moving through me.