by Oumou Sangare

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Fans of Mali's Songbird, Oumou Sangaré, have been waiting for new music from this charismatic singer - it's been nearly seven years since Worotan, after all. But her dearth of recordings is made up for with this two-CD set, comprising a best-of from her three World Circuit albums from the '90s and 8 other songs, some from a Malian


Fans of Mali's Songbird, Oumou Sangaré, have been waiting for new music from this charismatic singer - it's been nearly seven years since Worotan, after all. But her dearth of recordings is made up for with this two-CD set, comprising a best-of from her three World Circuit albums from the '90s and 8 other songs, some from a Malian recording which was never released internationally. One, "Mogo Te Diya Bee Ye," dates from 1994 and is classic wassoulou music: a hypnotic melody cycles through hunter's harp (kamalengoni) and metal scrapers while Oumou characteristically speaks her mind; the chorus repeating "You can't please everyone." It's followed by the jarring "Magnoumako," one of six songs from the cassette-only Malian release, Laban. This is Malian radio music, a side of Sangaré that international fans seldom see. Drippy keyboards distract momentarily from this song Sangaré wrote about her mother's abandonment with six hungry children. But her soaring voice and the sure rhythms of guitarist Baba Salah more than compensate for the uncharacteristically overproduced track. "Yala," which kicks off with a keyboard/guitar/kamalengoni mix reminiscent of Stevie Wonder's "Master Blaster (Jammin')," seems to crackle forth like some sub-Saharan radio broadcast, with an insistent electronic dance beat and horns. The electronics are in effect on a remix of "Djorolen" and "Ne Bi Fe" which sound like Portishead on a trip to Bamako. At the other end of the spectrum is "Wayeina," a traditional song from Mali's north and a concert staple. The style is similar to that of the north's favorite son, Ali Farka Touré; dry and evocative of the hardscrabble landscape, it features another virtuoso turn by Baba Salah and njurka (one-string fiddle). Likewise, "Maladon" is rich with strings, with a sunny, Bollywood feeling. "Laban," which Sangaré's own insightful album notes describe as a big hit in Mali, is spot-on, though, and those who have not heard the 12 previously released, remastered tracks here will find a worthy introduction to their new favorite African singer.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Sean Westergaard
Following Worotan, Oumou Sangare's third album for World Circuit, she decided to take some time to devote to her family and also to focus her efforts on bettering her own country rather than continuing her path to international stardom. After nearly eight years since that last stateside release, World Circuit is reintroducing her with the Oumou compilation. But this is much more than a simple "greatest-hits" package, as six of the tracks come from Sangare's most recent album, released on cassette only in Mali in 2003, and two others are previously unreleased. Sangare is not only a fabulous singer with a great band, she is an important social commentator, addressing many aspects of Malian society with a forthrightness never before heard from a Malian woman. Her basic sound is rooted in Wassoulou, a modernized version of an ancient hunters' musical tradition, which featured the kamalengoni, a six-stringed African harp. Sangare blended that with violin, electric guitar, bass, and her powerful, passionate lyrics, taking Mali by storm in the early '90s. As time went on, she incorporated some outside influences, but never abandoned her deeply Malian sound. In fact, some of the material from the most recent cassette release is virtually indistinguishable from her first album. On the other hand, she successfully integrated Pee Wee Ellis and his horn arrangements on Worotan, and while the drum programming on "Yala" might be a bit disconcerting at first, she points out in the liner notes that the song was intended as a message for young people, and where better to get that message out than the dancefloor? (That song and "Ne Bi Fe," with its almost trip-hop flavor, represent the only real stylistic departures on the collection.) The intelligent, non-chronological sequencing makes the collection flow nicely. Informative liner notes outline the origins of Wassoulou as well as Sangare's history, and Oumou herself provides track-by-track commentary. This is a great package of amazing music from one of Mali's most important artists.

Product Details

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Disc 1

  1. Ah Ndiya (Oh My Love)
  2. Wayeina (An Exclamation of Enjoyment)
  3. Mogo Te Diya Bee Ye (You Can't Please Everyone)
  4. Magnoumako (Agony)
  5. Dugu Kamalemba (The Womanizer, the Skirt-Chaser)
  6. Saa Magni (Death Is Terrible)
  7. Woula Bara Diagna (A Long Way Away)
  8. Yala (Roaming About for No Good Reason)
  9. Djorolen (Worry, Anxiety)
  10. Denko (The Business of Having Children)

Disc 2

  1. Maladon (Hospitality)
  2. Diaraby Nene (The Shivers of Passion)
  3. Sigi Kuruni (The Little Marriage Stool)
  4. Ne Bi Fe (I Love You)
  5. Laban (The End of a Human Being's Life)
  6. Kayi Ni Wura (Good Evening to Everyone!)
  7. Sabu (The Source)
  8. Djorolen (Worry, Anxiety)
  9. Baba (A Love Song for a Husband)
  10. N'Guatu (The Straw That Grows in the Savannah Fields)

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Oumou Sangare   Primary Artist,Vocals,Choir, Chorus
Pee Wee Ellis   Tenor Saxophone
Jean Toussaint   Tenor Saxophone
Colin Bass   Bass
Brehima Diakite   Kamalngoni
Nabintou Diakite   Choir, Chorus
Boubacar Diallo   Guitar
Massambou Wele Diallo   Percussion,Bolon
Chris Haig   Violin
Graeme Hamilton   Trumpet
Mike Mondesir   Bass
Guy N'Sangue   Bass
Winston Rollins   Trombone
Ibrahima Sarr   Djembe
Nitin Sawhney   Guitar
Frank Tontoh   Drums
Alima Toure   Choir, Chorus
Aliou Traore   Violin
Brice Wassy   Drums
Mike Williams   Flute,Alto Saxophone
Amadou Ba Guindo   Bass
Benogo Diakite   Choir, Chorus
Thomas Dyani   Percussion
Paul Jayasinha   Trumpet
Everton Nelson   Strings
Malik Mezzadri   Flute
Abdouleye Fofana   Flute
Baba Salah   Guitar
Basidi Keita   Djembe
Catherine Browning   Strings
Simon Burwell   Keyboards
David E. Williams   Strings
Ramata Diakité   Choir, Chorus
Jacqueline Norrie   Strings
Coco Mbassi   Choir, Chorus
Tata Diakite   Choir, Chorus
Zé Luis Nascimento   Percussion
Oliza   Choir, Chorus
Kassini Sidibe   Kamalngoni
John Smart   Strings
Zoumana Tereta   Violin
Julia Daar   Choir, Chorus

Technical Credits

Pee Wee Ellis   Horn Arrangements
Oumou Sangare   Arranger,Composer,Liner Notes
Jerry Boys   Engineer
Massambou Wele Diallo   Arranger,Producer
Lucy Duran   Liner Notes,translation
Nick Gold   Producer,Executive Producer
John Hadden   Engineer
Mark Peters   Engineer
Amadou Ba Guindo   Arranger,Producer
Boncana Maïga   Producer
James Thompson   drum programming
Pierre Houon   Engineer
Michel Lorentz   Programming
Baba Salah   Arranger
Traditional   Composer
Voncana Maïga   Arranger,Artistic Director

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