A worthy custodian of the treasures of Mandingo Africa, Souraka Koite, the Senegalese griot (bard), is the man in the spotlight on this new reissue of En Hollande by Awesome Tapes From Africa. It is a remarkable cassette – showcasing a unique 1984 solo kora recording that took place in a converted chicken coop.
Originally from Maleme, East Senegal, Sourakata Koite took to the road early on: first to Dakar, where he got a taste for the trembling mbalax; then Paris in 1978, where he integrated without delay into popular ensembles from a diaspora already exercising its creativity; he also played with the backing bands of Manu Dibango, Toure Kundan and Jacques Higelin.
A respected musician as well as a musical craftsman, Koite even manufactured his own koras: if the djelis harp-lute traditionally has twenty-one strings, his could have thirty-seven, sometimes metallic – continually offering the possibility of reinvigorating his vast repertoire.
For En Holland, Sourakata Koite selects some of his favorite tunes, unfolding a cascade of crystalline sounds that includes epic, tightrope solos, which are supported by local percussionists Joseph Nganga and S.E.G Cissé. More surprisingly, king Koite sings (wonderfully so) the compositions and stories of Mandingo heritage that have lasted a millenia. Yet, through pieces such as “Djonol,”which almost feels like a rap track, we can see that he is still innovating.
Sourakata Koite, En Hollande (Awesome Tapes From Africa)