Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Jaliba Part two
Ebrahima Kamara, a Gambian ethnologist in Sweden expose to us the coloration between the music that Jaliba plays and that of his predecessors: the full analysis is stated below:
“Lalo Kebba Dramé and Jali Nyama Suso were well known for taking “KAANO” out of the moral closet of the Mandingka”. But they did not come as long as Jaliba and one reason could be a generational difference. “The question is; does that affect their skills or understanding of the kora and the uniqueness of the instrument? NO, they did all they could to understand the instrument and its ability.
Is Jaliba a better Kora player than them? NO! On the other hand we are in an era of renegotiating positions hence the old positions are ineffective. The renegotiation of the position of the kora to give it its right position in this era starts with its tuning system. Before it was tuned according to traditional tuning system but today it is tuned according to the 440A note, a western tuning system. There are arguments that tuning the Kora according to the western note system does not only reduce it to an ordinary piano but also reduces its tonal range, melodic spectrum and richness of harmony. So in that sense Jalibas have already given up a basic principle of the uniqueness of the Kora as a traditional Mandingka instrument.
Secondly, culture is dynamic it influences and is influenced; culture is constantly on the move from the original local environment to new localities where it is reconceptualised and redefined to fit in and to serve new purposes. An example of such a redefinition is the new form(s) of Mandingka ceremonial dance(s) and drumming existing in Sweden today. Swedes dance lengengo not for the same reason as the Mandingkas from whom it originated rather they dance it for recreational purposes and other reasons that fit the new context (Sweden) different from kullio or manjótaa contexts
My personal reason of not listening to Jaliba as I use to is because he has left the path of Afro-Manding, which made him what he is, for something that he did not fully understand, making his renegotiated style of music uncertain and fragile; but that is just my hang-up. Am not saying he is wrong in renegotiating his position to enable him to bring his music and the kora into our times, but he should not loose himself on the way, after all the market looks for something unique and the Afro-Manding sound is unique.”
From the comments of Mr Kamara, we can deduce that, Jaliba disembark on the typical Mandingo base kora territory to invent a new dynamics for himself. Whether this is good or bad is up to fans of Kora and Manden culture to determine.
Njok Malick a young Wolof music promoter who occasionally brings Jaliba to Europe sees the adaption as part of marketing ploy on making Kora relevant. He said “the incorporation of mblax into the Kora tradition is meant to increase fan base.”
That statement made a lot sense, but Jaliba in his interview claim, the inclusion of wider instruments in meant to be inclusive. Njok Malick further mention that, “Jaliba still has the ability of playing in two settings. Traditional and contemporary. In the traditional settings, Jaliba plays only the kora and sings old time songs, whilst in contemporary settings the shows are more or less to entertain diverse fans who belongs to all the tribes in the Gambia”.
That being said, Jaliba don’t seem to play any instrument associated with second larges tribe in the Gambia, the Fulbe. Although, i will hasten to say that, Jaliba has composed brilliant songs for the likes of Morro Baldeh, my own neibour from Wulli Sare Pendeh in “Fulo be nyakoi” Barry Sukuta in “meen kadi ko mi pulo niamina”, and now few Sarahuleh money men are praise in Kissingma Bachilley “sarahuleh yeeh banah yaa le lon”.
Njok who brought Jaliba to England in 2008, indicates that “Jaliba is in a tough industry, were moral values are a smaller part of the music industry.” When i asked Njok about the extent Jaliba’s wives appear provocative in his shows with mblax dance and Mandingo lengen, Njok said “you are looking at Jaliba’s wives in wrong context. The women are musician in their own rights. When the show is on, they are not Jaliba’s wives butt musical companions or band mates were the mix most be to perfection. Whatever it takes to please the punters is what the women will do, including provocative dance.”
Njok’s observation demonstrated that of an experience man in the entertainment industry. Jaliba himself can be seen motioning his wives to dance to the ‘kajo or lengen’ with the hard hands of Bakary Kamara aka General (the traditional drummer), whilst Nyaw or Momodou Niang tear the show apart with his double Wollof drums.
Pa Modou Njie aka Gainde, proprietor of the famous www.onegambia.com on the other hand sees Jaliba has a star attempting increasing the fan base and income generating capacity by his relax songs . He said “One thing that is obvious is that Jaliba has taken a totally different line from the traditional ´Jaliya´. Not only did he incorporate modern electric instruments like guitars, keyboards etc, even his songs have somehow shifted from the traditional ‘praise-singing’ style earning him an audience within the younger generation. To say if it is for the good or the worse is a question of taste in my opinion. Jaliba himself describes his music as kora pop.
Gainde solve the puzzle in the kind of Kora music jaliba plays. I believe Kora pop is a good definition. This will appeal to younger fans. Gainde further indicates that he Personally, “...enjoy kora most in an acoustic setup (with other traditional instruments like the fula flute, xalam(kontingo), calabash, dundungo(local drums) and maybe an acoustis guitar.” Jaliba by all accounts has dive in for the wider audience than the traditionalist who are unhappy with his transformation.
Is the Manden Kora tradition a casualty in the Jaliba experience? The answer is no, since Jaliba may be Gambia base but there are other Kora performers who still plays to historical traditional styles. Toumani Jibateh is one such person. Jali Foday Suso is also another traditionalist, although lived in Chicago U.S for many years.