Mamadou Barry

Mamadou Barry

 Angoulême, Poitou-Charentes, FRA

With his cool yet energetic Afrobeat style and the frenzied rhythms of the forest that he has invited into his music, ‘Master’ Mamadou Barry showcases all the facets, notably his gift for hypnotic Mandingo melodies.


Mamadou Alioune Barry was born in 1947, in the aftermath of World War 2, in Guinea —then a French colony. His father played the accordion and drums in one of the most famous orchestras of that time, Le Pavillon Bleu, in Kindia. He taught Mamadou his first lessons and passed on to him his passion for music.
At first destined to become a schoolteacher, Barry was spotted out for his musical talent and his career took on a new direction more in keeping with his aspirations and temperament. In the early sixties, he was involved in the cultural —notably musical— scene emerging in the fever and energy of the newly gained independence under the regime of Sekou Toure, who was also a patron of arts.
While he was the master-drummer in the troupe Les Ballets de Conakry, he was introduced to the biguine as well as to saxophone playing by the Caribbean musician Honoré Copé. He later studied music theory with North Koreans (there were many of them in socialist Guinea). Ears wide open, he travelled to Cuba where he discovered the ‘son montuno’. Upon his return he played with many bands in his home country and throughout Africa.
In 1968, his talent as a composer and arranger led him to become founding member and leader of Kaloum Star, the new orchestra sponsored by the Guinean state after Bembaya Jazz National, Keletigui, Balla and the Hora band. In recent years, he has also been the leader of Gombo Jazz, which performs every week in the clubs of the pulsating Guinean capital.
The worthy heir of Momo Wandel, West Africa’s greatest saxophonist, Mamadou Barry — who has been called ‘Maître’ because of his short career as a schoolmaster—has become a major figure of his country’s artistic scene. As the musical director and arranger of Les Amazones de Guinées (since 1983), he has accompanied all the stars of Guinean music, notably Sékouba Bambino, Yeli Sanon and Missia Saran. He has toured the world with Kaloum Star and, occasionally, Bembaya Jazz National and Keletigui. Much respected and valued for his openness and generosity, he is often sought out to accompany young artists, both on stage and in studio.
Mamadou Barry is a multi-instrumentalist —he not only plays tenor, alto and soprano sax but also flute and percussion — as well as a fine connoisseur of all the sub-region’s rhythms and music styles. Open to all musical trends, he has insisted on self-producing this first album under his name, in a studio of Conakry. It was recorded with the cream of Conakry’s musicians, all generations included, both modern and traditional; it notably features three of the finest female voices in Guinea.
With his cool yet energetic Afrobeat style and the frenzied rhythms of the forest that he has invited into his music, ‘Master’ Mamadou Barry showcases all the facets of his talent in this recording, notably his gift for hypnotic Mandingo melodies.
Between Afrobeat, Mandingo rhythms, soft funk, revisited jazz flavours and Latin sensuality, Niyo is undoubtedly one of the good surprises coming from Africa this year, like something from another planet come to join the world of tropical groove.



Written By: Mamadou Barry

Inspired from a famous Susu melody from Guinea’s Coastal Region and based on the theme of a man lamenting the absence of his lover, this piece has been turned into a powerful Afrobeat number by Mamadou, here on tenor sax.


Written By: Mamadou Barry

This stylish and elegant groove originates from the Forest Region, near Beyla. This piece is sung with class and humour by Seny Malomou, who is very popular in Conakry. The lyrics warn girls to beware of passing love affairs and fickle boys.

African Five

Written By: Mamadou Barry

This very African, 4/4 re-reading of Dave Brubeck’s famous Take Five enables Mamadou Barry to show his innovative style on alto sax. Also original is the style of Papa Kouyaté, the former percussionist and bandleader for Miriam Makeba (who lived in Conakry for over ten years), and the only djembefola able to make his drum sound like a pair of congas.


Written By: Mamadou Barry

This Susu melody is very popular throughout Guinea. This true traditional standard swings lightly, elegantly revisited by the Master, first on tenor sax then - after the chorus by the young guitarist Djessou Mory Kanté— on soprano sax, an instrument he particularly excels at.


first album under his name will be release on may 2009 "Niyo" - World Village (Harmonia Mundi) produced by Christian Mousset for Marabi

Set List

all compositions by Mamadou Barry and many others based on the traditional mandingo repertory (Guinea, Mali)