Diabel Cissokho is returning for fifth album Rhythm of the Griot and continues his art of combining blues music with griot traditions of Senegal. The debut single Barakhama is out on Friday on Kafou Music. Blues rhythms are pushed to the forefront on On Sait Faire Blues from the album:
Debut single Barakhama is typically West African and is a soulful call and response duet, with Diabel on guitar and vocals with Bouba Cissokho on percussion. The album was recorded in a mixture of French and local Senagalese languages.
Cissokho is best known as a kora player having performed with Pee Wee Ellis and Damon Albarn’s Africa Express. It comes at the same time as his appearance on British group Da Lata’s forthcoming album, Birds.
Cissokho can trace his griot heritage back 250 generations to the birth of the movement in 13th century Mali. Griots are oral storytellers, the people who keep the cultural life of villages, towns and nations alive. They tell their stories to music, using instruments such as the ngoni, the kora or the balafon. It’s a tradition that Cissokho inherited growing up in Tambacounda, close to the border with Nigeria and Mali. His father and uncles are established kora players who taught him to build his own instrument at five-years-old.
Cissokho’s 2010 album Mansana Blues – created with English blues guitarist Ramon Goose – paired griot vocals with blues guitar and was followed by harmonica-heavy Tambacounda Express in 2016, named after the area in which he grew up, 450km from the capital of Senegal. He now splits his time between Senegal and Cornwall.