Soro

Soro

by Salif Keita
     
 

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In 1987, Salif Keita's soaring voice rang like a clarion, calling the world's attention to Mali's ancient, soul-charging sounds. Soro remains an unparalleled "world music" classic, one that deftly fuses the traditional and the technological into a unique and coherent whole, one reflective of Africa's modern reality. Keita's burnished voice, echoing the modal,

Overview

In 1987, Salif Keita's soaring voice rang like a clarion, calling the world's attention to Mali's ancient, soul-charging sounds. Soro remains an unparalleled "world music" classic, one that deftly fuses the traditional and the technological into a unique and coherent whole, one reflective of Africa's modern reality. Keita's burnished voice, echoing the modal, Islam-influenced cadences of Mali's jali (griot) tradition, is full of ache and spiritual passion. The rhythms -- tumbling triplets and subtle but driving 4/4's were born on the balafon and kora of Mali's traditional repertoire, but they find fresh life in Keita's mix of airy synths, throbbing electric bass, and vibrant horn arrangements. Alternately spacey (as on the title cut), and slamming (as on the brilliant "Sina"), this disc flows like the mighty Niger River, the lifeblood of Mali's desert-dwelling people. "Cono," one of Keita's masterpieces, pulses with the gentle, rocking flow of traditional village music, while at the same time displaying a modern studio polish that makes it instantly accessible for pop audiences. Ousmane Kouyate infuses the disc with brilliant Mandeng-style guitar picking that provides a perfect backdrop for Keita's vocal flights. Many have chased Keita down the golden road to "worldbeat" success; few even approach his finesse. Soro remains the measure of the form.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Christina Roden
Salif Keita's success story reads like an improbable historical novel. Born in Mali and descended from a famous warrior king of the Manding Empire, Keita is an albino, which is still considered bad luck in many parts of Africa. He was ostracized from birth, and his childhood was marred by his father's oft-expressed revulsion. Although it was considered shameful for people of his caste to become entertainers, he must have felt that he didn't have much lose, so he migrated to the capitol city of Bamako bent on a career as a singer. After epochal stints fronting bands like Rail Band and les Ambassadeurs, he moved to Paris during the mid-'80s. His reputation had proceeded him, and he quickly became a fixture on the flourishing African music circuit. Although he was famous in Africa and had achieved a strong fan base among connoisseurs around the world, Soro was his international breakthrough album. The project was produced by Ibrahima Sylla, a visionary who had already discovered dozens of African stars and would later become the driving force behind Africando. The arrangements featured the roiling rhythms, slightly nasal female backup choirs, and traditional percussion typical of Malian music. But these were nearly overwhelmed by attack-trained brass charts, rocked-out electric guitars, overtly synthetic keyboards, and programmed drums. In retrospect, only a voice as powerful as Keita's could have not only managed to cut through the din but make an ally of it. Despite a tendency to sound somewhat dated, Soro preserves the Golden Voice of Mali at an absolute peak of perfection, alternately soaring, laser-like, or caressing. Although this melting pot only narrowly avoids boiling over, it must be placed near the top of any list of the master's most influential albums.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/19/2008
Label:
Stern's
UPC:
0740042102026
catalogNumber:
1020

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Salif Keita   Primary Artist,Vocals
François Bréant   Keyboards
Michel Alibo   Bass Guitar
Nayanka Bell   Trombone,Vocals
Jacques Bolognesi   Trombone
Djene Doumbouya   Vocals
Souleymane Doumbouyha   Conga
Udo Essieh   Percussion
Eric Giausserand   Trumpet
Alain Hatot   Saxophone
Thio M'Baye   Percussion
Abdou M'Boup   Percussion,Conga
Ibrahima Mamour Ba   Bass Guitar
Marie Lou   Vocals
Douglas Mbida   Vocals
Yves N'Djock   Guitar,Vocals
Jean-Philippe Rykiel   Keyboards
George Seba   Vocals
Brice Wouassy   Drums

Technical Credits

Salif Keita   Composer
François Bréant   Arranger
Jean-Philippe Rykiel   Arranger
Cheick Tidiane Seck   Composer
Ibrahima Sylla   Producer

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