The second LP of one of the most pivotal figures in the history of Malian music – Sorry Bamba – is being reissued this month by Africa Seven. His work spans five decades and Mali’s cultural traditions and new musical styles that arose during Mali’s post-Colonial period.
Bamba was born in 1938 in Mopti, dissected by both the Niger and Bani rivers and known for its rich cultural diversity. Bamba’s father was a distinguished veteran of Emperor Samory Toure’s military and a nobleman in Malian society. But this meant young Sorry was forbidden to make music, as under the nation’s caste system music was an art form reserved for the Griots. At the age of ten, Sorry’s parents died and in these traumatic times the young teen found solace in music. He first taught himself to play an African six-holed flute and as he progressed he began to absorb the rich tapestry of music of his surroundings – traditional Malian music, highlife from Ghana, local accordion master Toumani Toure, as well as European singers and musicians.
In 1957 Sorry formed his first band, Group Goumbe, named after a popular Ivory Coast dance style. In 1960 when Mali gained independence from France, Bamba and his group benefited from a new openness toward local music on the state-run radio network Radio Mali. Sorry then went on to form two award-winning collectives – Bani Jazz and later the Kanaga Orchestra. They fused Latin jazz, Western R&B, psychedelic and funk, as well as traditional Malian styles, making them a favourite in Mali and beyond.
The re-issue benefits from extensive restoration and re-mastering.
Check out Africa Seven for previous re-issues of Sorry Bamba’s third and first LP.