BEMBEYA JAZZ NATIONAL — Bembeya Jazz National (review)

BEMBEYA JAZZ NATIONAL — Bembeya Jazz National album cover Boxset / Compilation · 1993 · World Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Taken from Bembeya Jazz National’s later material recorded during the 1980’s and although the band had reached massive popularity back home in Guinea and West Africa during the early 1970’s it was that car crash that killed their loved vocalist Demba Camara that commenced their slide in popularity in the 70’s but that is not to say that the music took a slide because if this compilation is any example they were still putting out some beautiful and stunning grooves of all those old Manding tunes given the band’s unique touch. This compilation is derived from their 1985 release “Bembeya Jazz National”, ESP 8418, 1986 releases ESP8430,ESP8431 with all these releases having just the band’s name as the title and the 1987 release “Sabu” ESP8442. Not all the tracks of course are included but what is here on this compilation is quite a delight with Sekou (Diamond fingers) Diabate still doing the majority of the arranging and writing one song with all those added delightful guitar inputs and interjections that was his stamp and there is also another song that is not Folkloric being “Gbapie” written by Yebe Traore and arranged by the band’s trumpeter Mohamed Kaba of the ten tracks included within the cd’s compilation.

Percussion is the back bone of so much of Bembeya Jazz National’s repertoire and “Telegramme” is no exception being written by Sekou Diabate over this mid timed song containing some lovely saxophone input, great choral singing and one superb guitar solo from Sekou included within this African based number. Sekou Diabate is the lead vocalist for the following “Lan Naya” ( La Confiance) with the lyrics concerning trust and keeping a relationship durable. “Moussokoro” delivers a fabulous groove with the band in full swing with the following track “Sukabe” keeping the Manding groove going along nicely. “Gbapie” has a slight Cuban influence starting in a slow tempo with the song changing midway to a completely faster time in this wonderful West African number with “Yekeke” following not to be confused with Mory Kante’s smash hit ‘Yeke Yeke” but still that title when sung does reminds me of it. One of my favourites from the compilation is up next being the driving beat based “Sabu” with some stunning hitting the notes Manding vocals, a kicking horn section and one absolutely full on percussion solo mixed with Sekou’s guitar within this great kicking number. More beautiful Guinean Music follows with “Koumba Tenin” and “Yelema Yelemaso” with one of the other real highlights to finish the compilation of being the highly Cuban influenced “Yarabi” with that beautiful slow sleaze included.

Personally I play this period within the band’s time frame more so than their famous earlier material perhaps it was the eighties and the push towards more beat and a slight clearer sound in the band’s recordings. If you see this compilation on Sonodisc grab it as it does contain Classic African Music from one of the continents greatest exponents.
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