Remembering the huge success of Djumbai Jazz concert at Lost Lisbon :: Chiado House…
❝ Let us think of the instrument more as a presence, a voice, instead of an inanimate object. Animate it. We might even think of her as a woman. In this case, the songs she’ll sing for us come from West Africa – all over West Africa. Her people are in Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Gambia. And like these musicians who escort her, she comes from Guiné Bissau.
In the tradition of Guiné Bissau the guitar is a singer, but not just that. She’s a story-teller. She is a keeper of myth and legend. People describe her sound as magical or mystical, and that’s true, but she’s a historian as much as a mystic. She remembers what others might forget, and she tells the tales. It’s up to her lovers, her listeners, to discern the truths among the myths.
This guitar is particularly sensitive. Traditionally she is made of flesh, the flesh of animals and the flesh of the earth: traditionally her strings are of leather. Of skin. Traditionally her body is wrought of a calabash gourd, grown close to the earth. She is particularly difficult to play; the artists whose touch coax out her song must be real masters to bring out her trilling runs, her riffs, her meandering improvisational lines. The musician must cajole and guide her, but then give her freedom to play. The musician, therefore, is rather like a mystic and storyteller himself, pulling silence into song, and shaping sounds into stories.
In this sense, this guitar and her players are like the great cultural ambassadors of West Africa, artists and historians as much as musicians. Djumbai Djazz is at the vanguard of this cross-cultural connection. These artists bring to Lisbon the deep roots of the music of Guiné Bissau, featuring the captivating voice of the guitar in the tradition of the kora, and they weave these roots together with influences of other traditions. You might hear lines that sound like flamenco or delta blues guitar. You might hear the psychedelic strains of Ngumbé or Djambadon. There are echoes, here, of the Bembeya Jazz National of Guinean Independence, barely half a century old. And of course, there’s the spectacular complexity of this percussion, driving the guitar forward, urging her on. The musicians of Djumbai Djazz are the youngest generation of the Guinean musical front line, parting from purely traditional music to offer a structurally-advanced version of their proud heritage.
We’ve welcomed Spain, Brazil, Italy, New York and, of course, Portugal – and now, West Africa. ❞
Djumbai Djazz is:
Maio Coopé (vocals and percussion)
Sidia (solo guitar)
Sadjo (rhythm guitar)
LLRS #10 – Djumbai Djazz (audio)
LLRS #10 – Djumbai Djazz (video)