Djeli Moussa Diawara
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Djeli Moussa Diawara

Paris, Île-de-France, France | INDIE

Paris, Île-de-France, France | INDIE
Band World Jazz


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Djeli Moussa Diawara @ New Morning

Paris, None, France

Paris, None, France

Djeli Moussa Diawara @ Old Fort

Zanzibar, None, Tanzania

Zanzibar, None, Tanzania

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This band has not uploaded any videos



I'm not sure when I first heard the sound of a kora, but I do remember that everything changed in 1983 when I brought home an album by Djeli Moussa Diawara I found at Sterns African records Centre [...]. Only four songs, all of them long, and I played this entrancing thing over and over, marvelling at the mixture of kora and guitar, the soaring voice of Moussa and the dreamy answering chorus of women. The endless circles of sound from the balaphon were hypnotising. I played all four songs on Capital Radio, and found that listeners were as enchanted as I was. - Charlie Gillett, The sound of the world

[...] I swear the emotion is higher here, the weave a quantum more intense. And of such quanta are world-music classics made.
[...] Yet once again his confident interweave and powerfully West African (Guinéan?) vocal feel (technique?) overwhelm secular skepticism. Right, this kind of Beauty is an ideological construct. Don't we all deserve a vacation once in a while? - Robert Christgau, - Dean of American Rock Critics

[...] Two koras, a balafon, and a splendid female chorus backing Jawara's lead make for a deserved best-seller among Africans in France. This is contemporary-traditional Mandingo music, purely and wonderfully performed and admirably recorded. - John Storm Roberts, All Music Guide

[...] Alors que les jazzmen récupèrent les grooves latins ou africains pour ancrer leurs solos, les bluesmen, eux, se tournent ver les soloistes. Ce qui les fait craquer, ce sont ces improvisateurs impénitents, sorciers de l'outrancier et de l'inattendu, que l'on rencontre dans les cours des villages d'Afrique. Djeli Moussa est de ceux-là, et s'il entreprend une carrière sérieuse, il est sûr que ses pairs américains le reconnaîtront. Le jazz est né au pays Mandingue au XIIIe siècle." - Libération

Magicien de la kora et chanteur, Djeli Moussa Diawara renoue avec sa carrière solo en publiant Sini, un album à la mesure de l’ambivalence de cet artiste guinéen : attaché à faire une musique populaire, mais conscient que sa virtuosité le coupe parfois de son public africain. Il n’hésite pas à faire le grand écart en passant d’un registre à l’autre. - Bertrand Lavaine, RFI Musique

"With either Diawara or Brozman, one would expect nothing less than a dazzling, vibrant, tasteful album, and OCEAN BLUES delivers all that to the power of two."
"On OCEAN BLUES concept and realization come together with spectacular results to produce one of the albums of the year [...]"
" [...] much in the style of last year's splendid collaboration between Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabate on Kulanjan... OCEAN BLUES is arguably an even finer album, for the interplay between the slide and Hawaiian guitars of Brozman and Diawara's kora seems more natural and better integrated."
"The clear sense of fun that comes through the speakers reaffirms the idea of music as a single universal language."
- SONIC.NET - Various

[...] Avec les arpèges aériens de Djelimoussa, Bob Brozman trouve le parfait contrepoint à ses guitares hawaïennes, à son blues grasseyant ; et l'Africain, qui est aussi guitariste, s'amuse parfois à le suivre en plaquant des accords. Comment peut-on plaquer un accord à la kora ? Théoriquement, l'instrument est calé entre les deux pouces, mais Djeli Moussa a mis au point une technique pour lâcher une main et jouer en "strumming". Il faut voir ses mains voler et claquer, ses doigts dérouler les notes pressées. Parfois il s'élance dans un solo précis et débridé à la fois, joignant la rigueur d'un Batourou [Sékou Kouyaté] à l'arrogante liberté des riffs griots. [...] - Libération

La palme du swing [revient] à la kora au long cours de Djeli Moussa Diawara [...] - Télérama


• 1983 Yasimika (LP – re-released as CD in 1991)
• 1988 Soubindoor [World Circuit]
• 1992 Cimadan
• 1996 Sobindo
• 1998 Flamenkora
• 2000 Ocean Blues - from Africa to Hawaï avec Bob Brozman
• 2006 Sini
• 2010 Yasimika (Abidjan 1982) – version remastérisée [CybearSonic]
• 2011 Yékéké (Paris 2010) [CybearSonic]

With Kora Jazz Trio
• 2003 Part I
• 2005 Part II
• 2008 Part III



Djeli Moussa Diawara is a Kora player (Korafola), singer & composer.

Besides his solo carrier (9 albums were released so far, the latest in 2011), he's also part of the Kora Jazz Trio, group he founded with Abdoulaye Diabaté (Piano) and Moussa Cissoko (Drums). He's composed most of the tracks of the 3 albums the Trio released as of today (I, II & III), mainly the ones where he sings, besides playing the Kora, and sometimes the guitar...

Through the intimate bond with his unique 32-stringed harp-lute, he has developed a rich musical talent, allowing him to wander from traditional rhythms from his Mandingo roots to (almost) unexpected styles, such as Salsa, Blues, Flamenco and Jazz, always pushing the boundaries of his Kora.

Since his 1st solo LP, recorded in Abidjan in 1982, he has toured and recorded extensively, meeting on stage or in studio, many great artists such as Ali Farka Touré, Carlos Santana, Bob Brozman, Manu Dibango, Janice deRosa, Stephan Eicher, Cheick Tidiane Seck...


Guinean singer and composer Djeli Mousa Diawara is foremost among world players of the Kora, the African harp-lute of the Manding peoples of the Senegambia. Born in Guinea in 1962 into a family whose musical roots span generations, his father was a famous player of the Balafon (Africa's wooden cousin to the xylophone), and his mother sang. He joined his family as a member of the djeli (or jali) caste - the honored griots who carry a tradition of reciting town news through improvised lyrics and melody on the Kora. Like his half-brother (they share the same mother), Mory Kante, he was drilled by his elders in music, instrumental technique and a millennium's worth of oral history and genealogies.

The Kora is a demanding instrument, consisting of two parallel rows of strings attached to a notched bridge on a resonating gourd, and Djeli's confident command of it is the result of a lifetime of study and practice. He learned the fine points of playing the Kora from brilliant performers and gradually forged an individual style, enhanced by his knowledge of the guitar. This led to changes on his Kora, that went from 21 to 32 strings.

Djeli Moussa Diawara put out his first LP in 1983 (later re-released by various British and American labels under the name YASIMIKA) and it is revered today as one of the finest African albums of all time. Following a series of false starts, he began to record for the Paris-based Melodie label, and his works were rapturously received by the press and public.

His mid-nineties release FLAMENKORA is a richly diverse set that underscores the shared Moorish roots of Flamenco and the Djeli tradition, combining sultry, Latin-tinged dance grooves with song of the ancient Mandingo Empire. With a simple palette of Kora and voice, he has fashioned his heritage into sounds and emotions that speak eloquently to a contemporary audience.

In 2000, Djeli recorded Ocean Blues - from Africa to Hawaï with Bob Brozman, the famous rhythmic & slide guitar player.
Bob and Djeli first met in April 1999 on Réunion Island, Indian Ocean, where they were performing at the same festival, while Bob was there working and recording with René Lacaille. Bob was knocked out by the innovative and expressive qualities of Djeli's Kora playing and musical approach. He then invited Djeli to join him in Quebec as part of the International Troupe that Bob organized for the 1999 festival season. At that point, the musical exchange between Djeli and Bob literally cried out for collaboration. By October, all was arranged for Djeli to make his first trip to America, to record in California.

"Ocean Blues" was recorded in real time, as this music cannot really be rehearsed - and that requires an intense musical presence and focus, which can be heard on this project. The only pre-planning for any song was a brief discussion of the key or mode, and of the rhythm to be used. On "Voyage dans le Désert," the two eagerly tried an experiment in which Bob put the kora into an Arabic mode, a tuning which Djeli had never played in before, and the two immediately recorded after hearing a few seconds of what Djeli could play in that tuning. This is but one example of the entire process of this record: each musician reacts to the other, and together they learn, compose, perform, and record all at once.

Djeli Moussa Diawara, now living near Paris (France), released on 1/1/2011 his new solo album, his 9th... His inspiration this time will take us to a journey from Guinean mood to classical Jazz, with the help of the multiple rich musical experiences he gathered when touring and travelling...