The music for this CD was made at Centre Togola, the local community center, run by director Kareem Togola. It is located outside Sabalibougou. ‘Bougou’ means ‘village’ in Bambara language, although it is located in a city district inside a bustling market place on the outskirts of Bamako, Mali, West Africa.
The community center houses local dancers, drummers and musicians, most of whom play in the center’s award-winning group. Many famous district groups from outside the city – and deep in the countryside – also pass through the center. This is how we were able to find some of the other groups and music we recorded as well.
The music for this album is traditional ‘Didadi’ music. The Didadi is from the Bougouni circle in Mali’s Sikasso region. It is played for end-of-the-year holidays or various celebrations and festivals. There are even huge Didadi festivals with competitions.
There are many different interpretations of the rhythm and dance. The very large, slim tambourine or tar-shaped dundun (lowest-pitched drum) is called, appropriately enough, ‘didadidundun’. It is played with a stick on one head and a hand on the other, and worn with a strap, so the player can dance and move around as well. Djembes are also used for either accompaniment or as solo instruments. The beautiful chants are often praise music.
I heard this group on my first trip to Mali with my friend and executive producer, Paul Chandler. On my return trip to Mali, I was determined to find and record them. Through the help of Paul, Kareem and Siaka Doumbia, we were able to do so on one of their visits to town from the countryside.