World Music: Trio Da Kali
Saturday, March 1, 8:00 p.m.
(pre-concert lecture: 7:00 p.m.)
Part of the MusicUnitesUs Intercultural Residency Spring, 2014
Trio Da Kali unites three outstanding musicians from the Mande culture of Mali, who come from a long line of distinguished griots (specialist hereditary musical artisans). Long-term collaborators, the artists come together as a trio with the aim of bringing to the forefront neglected repertoires and performance styles of the griots and celebrating African continent’s finest, most subtle, and sublime music. In so doing, they bring a fresh, contemporary, creative twist to their musical art, breathing new life back into this ancient music.
An original combination of voice, bass ngoni, and balafon, the trio takes their name from one of the oldest songs in the griot repertoire, an acapella praise song that recalls the role of the griots as advisors to Mali’s pre-colonial rulers. “Da kali” means “to swear an oath” and represents the griots’ pledge to their art. Trio Da Kali present a performance that revolves around the soaring, rounded vibrato voice of Hawa Kasse Mady (compared by some to Mahalia Jackson), who performs the songs she grew up surrounded by in Kela, one of the most musical centres of the griot world. The programme includes dazzling solo balafon pieces by the group’s leader Lassana Diabaté on the 22-key balafon. Few can match his lyricism and virtuosity, and the resonant sound of the rosewood keys of his balafon. Mamadou Kouyaté, the eldest son of ngoni maestro Bassekou Kouyaté, underpins the music with punchy bass lines on a large ngoni, West Africa’s oldest string instrument.
For more information about this residency, visit