Namory Keita a Melenke Djembe Fola, (djembe master) from the Hamanah region of Guinea West Africa is living and teaching on the east coast of the USA in New England. I have been spending the last two months studying and performing with Namory and I would like to report that not only is he an amazing performer, but a very knowledgable and patient teacher as well. He embodies the music and drumming he teachers, is fun to be around and communicates very clearly as well.
Namory Keita’s playing style is a traditional village playing style. It is very different then what most people are aware of in the djembe drum and west african drum and dance scene because he has never been part of a city ballet.
Most of what we see on Youtube and at many performances in the USA is ballet style drumming. Not village. In Ballet style djembe drumming and performances the music is often sped up and parts are added or changed to add excitement to the performance. The dunun drums (double sided drums played in a set of 3 which create the base and melody for almost all of the arrangements with djembes in Guinea) are played standing on end by one person playing three, rather then 3 people plying each drum separately in the village style of drumming.
Namory’s style is unadulterated and just as it is played in the village where he is from. I particularly enjoy this style because every piece is not played as fast and as hard as you can. There is more space in the rhythm arrangements he teaches and plays and also the parts are much more complex then hybridized ballet arrangements.
Namory has one CD out recorded on location and another will be made in the near future.