Drawing on the musical influences of the Malinke, Susu and Peulh people from Guinea, this impressive new album is traditional in spirit, with cool, modern overtones. In this recording Prince Diabate has avoided global fusion creating, instead, a different sound that is entirely his own. This is new music: music that reflects a regional culture; music that is strongly identifiable and, yet, surprising.
Recorded in Conakry in the winter of 2006, this new release features 11 original and traditional compositions, performed by some of Guinea's finest musicians and lead by Prince Diabate on kora, kamelen n'goni and vocals. This semi-acoustic album is arranged and produced by Kante Manfila, longtime collaborator of Salif Keita, who also plays acoustic guitar,along with three of his relatives.
This independently produced album, his first in five years, marks a return to roots for Prince Diabate and his kora.
DJERELON....voted amongst the top 20 albums of 2006
REVIEWS FOR DJERELON:
'...Expert arranging sets this recording apart from many contemporary recordings of Mande music. Diabate's worldly wanderings have served him well and while he honors and participates in his rich tradition, he does not simply mimic familiar formulae, but charts a course of his own. He reveals his broad experience and modernity with subtlety and cool. Djerelon establishes him as an important player in the growing wave of West African acoustic pop.'
- AFROPOP WORLDWIDE, July 2006, www.afropop.org
"A fine album of West African acoustica from the US-based kora maestro." FLY (UK,) June 2007
'Prince Diabate is one of the most exciting kora players working today. He also sings both traditional Manding music and his own compositions, and is very interested in fusing traditional music with modern ideas without having the modern elements dominate. He's assisted in DJERELON by the great and very successful Kante Manfila, who has been getting further back into his roots the last several years. Despite occasional electric guitar and western flute, the overall feel of DJERELON is traditional West African. Even the guitars sound like traditional African instruments, perhaps closer to a n'goni than a kora, but mostly they fit right in. The sound of the balafon (marimba) is most appreciated.Despite as many as ten people on a song, everything is bordering on laid-back. There is a definite groove. Some people could actually dance to DJERELON, but it's too subtle for most people raised on rock or disco to actually get up and dance to... but shake your head, tap feet, rock back and forth - you bet. DJERELON holds an infectious sound that will never grow old. It's not radically different from Prince Diabate's earlier cds, but perhaps more realized: his best yet.' - WWW.DISCOVERIES.NET
'Prince Diabaté is a Guinean kora player who resides in New Mexico and he has returned to his native country to work with local musicians on this atmospheric semi-acoustic CD. Using a mix of traditional songs and original compositions, Diabaté neatly keeps a foot in both the traditional and modern camps, making for a satisfying showcase of contemporary West African roots music...Kanté Manfila is co-producer and arranger, and there's something of the Malian legend's classic album Tradition about the whole approach to the album. From the ripple of descending balafon notes that usher in interlocking acoustic guitar melodies and soulful female harmonies, to Diabaté's subtle kamelen n'goni and kora embellishments and rich,woody timbre of a voice, there's an effortlessly relaxed feeling to the recordings.There is some exceptional interplay between the instruments on the first track, Horoya, with the drop-dead gorgeous female harmonies a perfect foil for Prince Diabaté's cool croon.... The rousing call-and-response between strings and voices on Herakoura elegantly rides waves of percussion, and on the mellower side, Mignabele is a shorter, quieter version of the traditional song….with kora to the fore, this is a serene new take on the song. Also worthy of note is the flute playing of Becky Allen and Sadio Diallo, which adds a welcome flightiness at crucial points on many of the tracks.' - FOLK ROOTS (UK) DEC, 2006.
"Prince Diabaté is called “the Jimi Hendrix of the kora,” but that’s just lazy shorthand for saying that he’s a skilled and exciting performer. On Djerelon, no pyrotechnics were used to create the disc’s lively and lovely Guinean music. Mostly acoustic and semi-traditional, acoustic guitar and electric bass are only a small part of a mix that includes balafon (better known to most as marimba), a lot of hand drums, both Western and African flutes, the single-stringed Fulani violin, a thumb piano called the gongoman,and female backing vocals, and, leading it all, Prince Diabaté with his mellifluous kora playing and plaintive voice. Like much of the best West African music, Djerelon is upbeat, but with a blue-toned soul, as minor-keyed phrasings snake their way through the predominantly happy melodies. Although its distribution is limited, Prince Diabaté’s latest CD (his first in five years) is well worth hunting down." - MICHAEL KEEFE, POP MATTERS, AUG 21, 2006
"Known as the Prince of the Kora, Prince Diabate funnels his superb kora playing with a variety of modern spiritual sounds fusing it with his own take on his region’s style of music. Mostly an acoustic album, the sounds are earthen, warm, and natural. “Djerelon” means “remember your roots” in his native Malinke language and that’s precisely what Diabate does. The instrumentation includes kora, kamelen n’goni, a one-stringed Fulani violin, Fulani flutes, Susu thumb piano, and contra-bass. Guinean traditionals are married with several original compositions that show off Diabate’s dynamic songwriting skills while keeping true to the album’s name. Incredible African music that is sure to whisk you away to West Africa."
- SMOTHER MAGAZINE, JUNE 2006 www.smother.net
'The title means "remember your roots" and with his first new set in 5 years, Diabate remembers his roots while looking forward, all the while avoiding the pitfalls of sets that try to fuse old and new and just wind up being nice at best. A very snappy world beat set that doesn't follow convention as much as march to its own drummer, any fans who know him from before won't be disappointed,while any new fans will be delighted. Creating a sound that doesn't fit the format but is friendly throughout, world beat has a new, left leaning leader.'
- MIDWEST RECORD, June 21, 2006 www.midwestrecord.com
Prince Diabate "Djerelon" Recommended for June
Beautiful, modernized and multilayered African Mandingo griot pop... This album made me sit up and listen not just because it's pretty-sounding, but also because Diabate has created some musical sounds that I haven't heard before... and that's pretty darn cool. The microtonal riffs that run counterpoint to the album's elegant kora work are quite striking... The entire disc is quite nice, actually -- if you enjoy gorgeous, melody-driven African pop, you'll want to check this album out!
- SLIPCUE E-ZINE, June, 2006 www.slipcue.com
Prince Diabaté: DJERELON (Kora Company Collection)
'À l'écoute de son chant, on ne ressent pas cette impression d'intense déchirure, ce véritable foudroiement propre aux grandes voix mandingues à la Salif Keita. L'organe coule en douce, un peu voilé, parfois fragile, sans trop de force dramatique, laissant quand même opérer le charme. Un choeur féminin, souvent autonome, qui n'a rien de la force émotionnelle des voix perçantes et puissantes des grandes cantatrices, se fait tout de même entendre fort agréablement, avec joliesse et délicatesse. Mais lorsqu'il joue de la kora, grande harpe royale, Prince Diabaté prend son véritable envol. Parce qu'il avait électrifié son instrument et qu'il avait fusionné sa musique avec toutes sortes de sonorités nord-américaines, on l'avait qualifié de Jimi Hendrix des cordes mandingues. Le revoici, plus près que jamais des racines malinké, susu et peuhl, sur un disque à dominante acoustique coréalisé avec le splendide guitariste Kanté Manfila. Un album ambitieux, enregistré à Conakry avec une vingtaine de musiciens : des cordes raffinées, des tambours et du balafon qui nous parlent pour vrai, des flûtes subtiles ou déchirantes.'
- LE DEVOIR, Montreal, Canada, July 2006
PRINCE DIABATE/DJERELON (Kora Company Collection)
'The title means "remember your roots" and the set proves that roots is best. The compositions are mainly the work of Diabaté, who plays kora, kamele ngoni & sings lead. There are also four traditional pieces. The ensemble is excellent and, though it's low key, it is a good mood album, perfect for a little mental safari to the bush of an evening. There's a one-string Fulani violin, Malinké and Fulani flutes and gongoman (which is the Susu thumb-piano), played by a wide array of talents, old and young, drawn from all corners of Guinée. Fode Sylla on djembe stands out, and Youssouf Conde on balafon acquits himself admirably. There are good harmony singers, meaning they are not shrill. All in all a pleasant hour of traditional music.'
- MUZIKIFAN, Sept 1, 2006
'For world music enthusiasts, who particularly enjoy West African musical tapestries, this album is well produced, performed and arranged....thoroughly entertaining, sweet and authentic. All of the instruments are the real thing and you won't find anything plugged in here...I recommend DJERELON to all world music fans and to those who just want to feel the joy that a true artist like Diabate delivers.'
- LA YOGA Magazine, July/August, 2006
"Guinea-born Prince Diabate has been known to experiment, including in his music strains of funk, reggae, rap, and blues. But Djerelon is a departure from his past forays into world fusion. Like other recent African albums, Djerelon hails back to the traditional roots ("djerelon" is Malinke for "remember your roots"). Kora, drums, and voice dominate, with some flute, bass, guitar, and balafon tossed in here and there to nice effect. The 11 tracks include four traditional songs with new arrangements by Kante Manfila. the rest are Prince Diabate originals, including my two current favorites, the upbeat 'Herakoura' and 'Djerelon.' A sure winner for West African music fans."
- SPIN THE GLOBE, KAOS RADIO 89.3FM, OLYMPIA, WA, MAY, 2006