Ben Zabo

GR 763CD GR 763CD

2012 release. The debut of Ben Zabo's Afrobeat band from Bamako, Mali, a work full of funky and gritty tunes, wonderful musicianship, and songs of peace and hope. Ben Zabo is a testament to the lesser-known culture of the Bwa people; it is the first international release of a Malian of Bo descendant with all songs in the Bo language and rhythms. Born into nobility in 1979 in the Segou region of Mali, Ben Zabo (real name Arouna Moussa Coulibaly) chose music as a career because of his passion but against the wishes of his parents, who wanted him to pursue a career as a pharmacist. Notes by producer Chris Eckman: "Much of the Malian music that has been released on European and American labels in the last few years shares one thing: it is mostly down-tempo and reflective. The kora majesty of Toumani Diabaté, the Songhi blues of the late Ali Farka Touré, the singer-songwriter tropes of Rokia Traoré and the dusted, acoustic meditations of Tinariwen (on their most recent album) are a demonstration of this point. Even the later albums of the once exuberant Salif Keita have grown more melancholy and ethereal. The music of Ben Zabo is a clear break from this quietude. His music is a string of firecrackers igniting on the dance floor of a midnight party. It is a music that has been perfected in the loud, sweaty, open-air clubs that line the outskirts of Bamako, places where the competition to get heard is fierce, and the chances of moving upward and outward are next to none. When I first came across Ben's music it seemed unlike any contemporary Malian music that I had heard. Its direct physicality, its polyrhythmic complexity and its raw but focused energy set it apart. But as I dug more into Mali's musical past, I realised there are antecedents for the music Ben and his band create. In the 70's and 80's, like in much of Africa, musicians in Mali were creating a powerful, and at times edgy musical fusion that brought together traditional rhythms and chants with the urban (and often western) sounds of the fast growing cities. . . . With the release of Ben Zabo's self-titled album an older tradition is renewed and an uncharted path begins."