Contributed by: Angel Romero, World Music Central
Mansa America (Completelly Nuts Records, 2008)
There are several flutes in the world that have special charm because of the beauty of their tones. Some of of my favorites are the Indian bansuri, the Norwegian willow flute and the West African Fula flute. And you can find some really fine Fula flute performances in Fula Flute, a New York-based collective formed by leading West African musicians (Abdoulaye Diabate, Famoro Dioubate, Bailo Bah, and Yacouba Sissoko), bassist Peter Fand and Canadian musician Sylvain Leroux.
Mansa America, released shortly before the end of 2008, is dedicated to U.S. president Barack Obama. Following in the West African griot (musicians, oral historians and storytellers) tradition, the CD begins with a tribute song made in honor of Obama, titled "Obama." The CD is a fiery Fula flute fest with two musicians on flute, Sylvain Leroux and Bailo Bah (who is also one of the singers). They are joined by several other griot musicians who are members of the band, on kora, bala and vocals. Mansa America includes a guest appearance by guitarist Mory Kante, ngoni player Cheikh Hamala Diabate and brass section with Arthur Murray on trumpet, Susan Babcock on French horn, Gordon Wolfe on trombone, and Bruce Eldern on trombone.
Mansa America shows how a group of creative musicians can develop an incendiary amalgamation of West African music with western elements.