David Gilden and Banning Eyre of
the Boston-based West African folk ensemble Cora Connection present one of the
richest and most surprising cultural legacies of Africa--the music and folklore
of the Mandinka Empire.
Musicians & Explorers, Gilden and Eyre present music, stories and slide images of their travels in Senegal, Gambia, Mali and Guinea. Gilden has played the 21-string harp-lute, the kora, for 14 years, and Eyre has spent over a decade exploring African guitar styles. Together, they present a view of African culture that is both authoritative and passionate, as well as highly entertaining.
|Beyond West Africa's better-known drumming and
choral singing traditions, lies the world of the Mandinka griots or jalis
-- traditional oral historians and master musicians. The griot's music is complex,
delicate, swinging and loaded with history and wisdom that resonates as much with Celtic folk,
the blues and jazz as it does with Afro-Cuban music, reggae and R&B.
Ancestral instruments--the kora, the banjo-like ngoni and the wooden-slatted balaphone--remain the griot players' principle tools. Modern griots have also adapted the guitar, using it to imitate the rhythms and melodic phrasing of the older instruments.
|Griot guitarists have become a vital part of the tradition, showing its ability to adapt to a changing world. Griots are also reservoirs of history, and singers that must master a large repertoire of compositions detailing family lineages, historical epics and entertaining commentary on contemporary life.|
presents the world of West African griots. The program also explores the link
between African and American music, revealing the African roots of the blues and rock-and-roll.
Familiar rhythms and tonalities and prominent use of the guitar help young Americans to
find themselves in another culture, and hopefully, to discover that it is not so far away
In addition to playing for the students and inviting them to participate in the music, Gilden and Eyre also present dramatic slide images from their travels in Africa, coupled with excerpts from their own field recordings. The result is powerful, transporting students and teachers alike directly to modern day Africa.
Banning Eyre: Guitar David Gilden: Kora
Here are some images from our travels in West Africa (click on the picture to
see a bigger version, and learn about these Mandinka musicians.),
and a listing of past school workshops.
|A popular Gambia musician,
|Jeli Madi Suso picks
out a calabash...
|Passing on the Manding tradition,
Sidiki Diabate teaching his sons...