Jah Youssouf & Bintou Coulibaly
'Sababou' available now on Tall Corn
Premiere - "Kahlan" via Okayafrica.
7. Je m'en vais
Jah Youssouf & Bintou Coulibaly as told by Brad Loving (a.k.a. Lobisomen):
My introduction to Jah Youssouf's (b. 1970) music came in a very 21st century western way: I heard a couple of his songs from a web based mp3 store called Calabash.com in early 2006 when I was living in Chicago. Calabash is no longer around, but it was nice because you could search for music by country, and they had an extensive African library. I was browsing through the music from Mali, and I came across a couple of tracks from Jah Youssouf's album Son Son Son. His music struck me as being such an interesting combination of influences - distinctly West African but somehow referencing something much larger. At some point, I did a Google search for Jah Youssouf and discovered that he actually had a website and was doing a little bit of touring in Canada. I looked into trying to see a show of his, but the timing was bad so I couldn't catch him.
A couple years later I decided to try and take a trip to Mali. I wanted to learn more about Malian music, and I was fascinated about Africa in general. I thought I'd try and get in touch with Jah since he was one of most interesting contemporary Malian musicians that I had heard. I tried to send a few emails through his website, but didn't hear back from him.
A few months later (May of 2009) I found myself in Bamako, Mali. In a great stroke of luck, I got an email from one of Jah's Canadian friends, JP Melville with Jah's cell phone number a couple of days after I arrived. I called Jah up initially just to ask if he was playing any shows while I was going to be in Bamako - he wasn't, due to the fact that he was in the throws of trying to organize another trip to Canada. We made plans to meet up, and he kindly invited me out to his house in Moribabougou for lunch (about 30 minutes outside of Bamako). I brought my little Zoom recorder to our lunch date, and we did a little bit of casual recording at his home. I was hooked. I was immediately struck not only by Jah's gifts (which I already had some exposure too) but also by his wife Bintou's prowess as a musician. I had already made plans to take a trip to out the Dogon Country, but we made a plan to try and record as much as possible after I returned, and they graciously offered to let me stay in their home. I did just that and these recordings are gleaned from those two weeks at their home in Moribabougou, Mali.
I think it's worth noting how distant my time with Jah and Bintou felt from the routines of my western life. Despite Jah's accomplishments as a musician (touring a little bit overseas and extensively in West Africa, a good deal of local acclaim from a song called "Ne toun be min", and his music making it to a website where I could hear it in the first place) he and his family lived a very fragile existence. Their home did not have running water and electricity was provided by a car battery. The most basic of needs were difficult to come by.
Despite this, there was a graciousness and openness to Jah and Bintou as well as their family and friends that seems very hard to come by in most places I've lived and travelled.
I was completely enchanted and enveloped by Jah and Bintou's music. I hope you enjoy these recordings, and I'd be delighted if money from selling them could provide a little stability for Jah and Bintou's family. They are such gifted musicians and kind people. I feel very lucky to have had that time together in Moribabougou and to have these recordings as a memento.