Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
African big band formed Conakry, Guinea '61. As the national orchestra of Guinea played central role in development of the nation's modern music. Between a dozen and 15 musicians incl. trumpets, guitars, singers, percussionists; prod. a blend of indigenous West African and Congo styles with distinct Islamic overtones. Led by Aboubacar Demba Camara, composer, arranger, historian of Guinea trad. until his death in car crash '73; band under his leadership captured on album 10 Ans de Success '71 on Syliphone label. Performed regularly in West Africa, on state occasions in Guinea, European tours incl. visits to Moscow. LPs incl. Parade Africaine, Le Defi, La Continuit‚, Regard sur le Asse, M‚moire de Aboubacar Camara, four tracks on compilation DiscothŠque '76. President S‚kou Tour‚ nationalized four bands incl. Bembeya, and personally chose vocalist/guitarist Sekouba 'Bambino' Diabate to join the band '84; Diabate led it on visits to London and Amsterdam '85, recorded songs incl. 'Yekeke' and 'N'kanuwe' on live LP African Roots: Vol 3. Tour‚ d '84, having 'privatized' the bands and given each of them a club to play in, but the country's economy had been wrecked and the golden age was over. Bambino carried on solo: a hereditary griot with a high creamy tenor voice and incredible range, his mother was a singer; he began at age eight (acquired his nickname because he was so small). He sang on cassette M Be Soma by Kade Diawara (the 'archangel of Mande'), revived his mother's songs, released cassette Sekouba Bambino Diabate -- Bembeya '91, CD Le Destin on Popular African Music/World Circuit and the beautiful Kassa '97 on Stern's, from two hit Guinean albums with extra tracks added. Bambino's guitarist, Sekou 'Bembeya' Diabate (aka 'Diamond Fingers') released duo Samba Gaye '97 on Dakar Sound with his wife Djanka (back-up singer for Salif Ke‹ta and others); another formerly nationalized group, the powerful twelve-piece Horoya Band, had its Paya- Paya dubbed from vinyl on Dakar Sound: the master tapes from the golden era are hard to find, but African music will not lie down. Bambino still considers himself a member of the legendary but dormant Bembeya.