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Volume One 1970 - 1979

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Sorry Bamba

Volume One 1970 - 1979

12" LP

Availability: In stock


Quick Overview

Relatively few music fans have heard of Malian bandleader, composer, vocalist, trumpeter, and flutist Sorry Bamba. His output was at the forefront of Malian popular music for decades, and to this date in the 21st century, he is considered one of his nation's cultural ambassadors. Bamba is not a griot, unlike most of the musicians in his country. In fact, he was born a royal into a military family and therefore forbidden to be a musician because of the strict caste system of French colonial Mali. After becoming an orphan at a young age, he was allowed to pursue music, first teaching himself to play flute and later trumpet. His first group, Group Goumbé (essentially himself and percussionists), was popular enough to perform on the radio when Mali won its independence from France in 1960, and was later given the moniker Bani Jazz. Growing his ensemble to include electric guitars, horns, bass, organ, drum kit, and a dancer, he eventually received the honor of leading the Regional Orchestra of Mopti and later the Kanaga Orchestra of Mopti. The recordings of these latter two groups are featured on this stellar collection from Thrill Jockey, curated and compiled by Extra Golden's Alex Minoff and Ian Eagleson with input from Bamba. It includes Bamba's biggest hit, "Yayoroba"; the Dogon anthem "Sayouwé" done in a modern style; the faux primitive boogaloo "Aïssé"; the hard-driving funky "Bayadjouro," with its wailing lead vocal, interlocking electric guitars, and hand drums; and the jazzed-up hypnotic swinger "Porry." Given that this is a first entry, listeners can only hope that the second volume contains more recordings from these two orchestras as well as tracks from Group Goumbé and Bani Jazz. For fans of Malian music in general, and killer proto-African funky jams, this is the authentic article.


Sorry Bamba’s father was a noble, and a veteran of the Emperor Samory Touré’s army. In Mali’s caste-based society, this meant that he was forbidden to play music, an art reserved exclusively for griots. However, after being orphaned at a very young age, he turned to music for solace, particularly a six-holed flute that kept him busy day and night. It was in 1957 that Sorry formed his first band, Group Goumbé, named after a dance craze from the Ivory Coast. Consisting of little more than some percussion instruments and a trumpet, Group Goumbé became popular with the young people of Mopti, publicizing their performances in a small van equipped with a loudspeaker. In the fall of 1960, Mali gained its independence from France. A new spirit swept the land, epitomized by the fledgling country’s first president, the charismatic Modibo Keïta. Radio Mali was created to promote the nation’s lush musical heritage, as well as to encourage its modernization. This artistic call-to-arms was not lost on Sorry, whose Group Goumbé (now called Bani Jazz) had already begun to modernize its sound. Through Youth Weeks held in the capital city of Bamako, performances and competitions brought together the most talented artists of Mali’s six regions to create a national community, dedicated to the progress of the republic. Nobody embodied this spirit of innovation more than Sorry Bamba. From 1968–1981, Sorry worked tirelessly as the director of Mopti’s dance troupe and the arranger of their traditional ensemble. But his greatest legacy is his time as the leader of the Regional Orchestra of Mopti (essentially a rechristened Bani Jazz). Sorry’s group competed in six National Biennials, taking home the grand prize in 1976, 1978 and 1980. By that point, they had become known as the Kanaga Orchestra, a name symbolizing the God Amma, creator of the Dogon people. This is the period of time covered on this record. It is important to note that this compilation was created with the direct input of Sorry Bamba himself. His enthusiasm and patience are remarkable for someone whose extreme underexposure borders on the criminal. However, while it is easy to characterize the man, to try to classify Sorry Bamba’s music is to do it a gross disservice. The only truly suitable word is MAGIC!

Additional Information

Artist Sorry Bamba
Track Listing Yayoroba Boro Gambari Astan Kelly Sékou Amadou Sayouwé Porry Aïssé Bayadjourou Sare Mabo

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