Sekouba Bambino
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Sekouba Bambino

Paris, Île-de-France, France | Established. Jan 01, 1979 | INDIE

Paris, Île-de-France, France | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1979
Band World


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"New album from Guinea's master griot singer. Soaring melodies, rolling rythmns and a..."

BBC review / 2002

Glancing down the track-listing of this album, one song title leapt out: James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World". There are few promising precedents for Africans recording American soul songs, but this works brilliantly in every possible way. Despite opening with a kora, the arrangement stays quite close to the original. Sekouba's lead vocal soars along new melodies of his own invention and in his own language. If one record proves the strong connections between the griot vocalists of West Africa and the gospel and soul singers of America's Southern states, here it is.
This is the best record of its type since Salif Keita's breakthrough album Soro, in 1987: West African music with western pop production values. Its a difficult balance to get right, and until Moffou earlier this year, most of Salif's subsequent records have tilted too far towards guitar-rock posturing or neo-cabaret horn arrangements. Some of the same team that created Soro are involved here: executive producer Ibrahim Sylla; arranger/keyboard player Francois Breant; and guitarist Ousmane Kouyate.
Sekouba grew up in the far north of Guinea, close to the border with Mali, but although his impassioned voice is reminiscent of Salif's, the music is unmistakably Guinean. Guinea is the third source of a substantial body of music in Francophone West Africa, along with Mali and Senegal. But it's not yet been as widely recognised despite providing us with the first of West Africa's horn-led bands, Bembeya Jazz. After Bembeya's first vocalist died in the mid-seventies, teenager Sekouba Diabate took over the role, soon to be nicknamed Bambino because of his youth. And Bambino he remains, thirty years later.
Apart from "Man's World", the rest of the songs are closer to what you would expect from a record by a West African griot singer: passionately sung, liberally laced with soaring melodies, lightly balanced on rhythms that ripple and roll. "Famou" appears twice, first as an acoustic song with accordion adding an unusual flavour to the classic sound and then returning at the end of the album as a dance remix. This feels like what the American used to call a sleeper. A record you take for granted at first, and then gradually come to appreciate for its classic beauty and exultant commitment. - Charlie Gillett

"THE GRIOT’S CRAFT Sékouba Bambino Diabaté"

It has been awhile since we’ve heard new work from Sékouba Bambino (Diabaté), veteran singer of Guinea’s legendary Bembeya Jazz, and probably the pre-eminent Guinean vocalist of the past two decades. This session, featuring a rich blend of acoustic instruments and superb musicianship, is a welcome update, a superb griot pop album, well worth the wait. Song after song, it’s the crispness of the arrangements and execution, the acoustic soundscape, and the seductive character of Bambino’s singular voice that does the trick.

It’s hard to over praise Bambino as a singer. On the opener, “Koumakelalou,” he unveils his silk smooth low register and works his way up to the majesty of his full-throated high end. On many of these songs a female chorus supports and answers him, in traditional fashion. Elsewhere, he goes alone, with minimal backing—not much more than a kora and acoustic guitar—as on “Kadete.” Irresistable.

Most of the time, Bambino projects overwhelming serenity. But on one song, “L’Excision,” we feel his pain. Bambino is singing on behalf of women subjected to female genital mutilation (excision). He sings his disapproval in French at one point in the song, determined that no one miss his meaning. Others West African singers, mostly women, have taken up this cause, but it remains a sensitive issue. So kudos to Bambino for stepping up. This battle is far from won, and singers with his stature are probably as well positioned to make progress as anyone.

The ensemble here is exceptional, whether launching into a Latin romp (“Kaba Mousso”) or a tripping 12/8 village groove (“Diatiguya”). They deliver gorgeous performances throughout, full of chiming, jangling melody and briskly rolling rhythms. Harouna Samake of Salif Keita fame on kamele ngoni is a special plus.

Worth noting. Bambino recently put out a far lesser, electric studio album called Innovation. With its overwrought electronics and stiff machine rhythms, that release reprises the most misguided efforts of Paris Afropop in the late 1980s. Innovative it most certainly is not. Truth be told, The Griot’s Craft doesn’t break much new ground either. No worries, though. Music this sweet is beyond mere innovation. It’s timeless. - Banning Eyre

"Zouk or Manding, Sékouba Bambino provides a choice Two very different albums from the Guinean singer"

15/08/2012 -

In this Olympic year, the gold medal for the big musical divide incontestably goes to Sékouba Bambino, whose albums Innovation and Diatiguyw have taken him on a journey of opposites, which is inherently logical given his double stature as a successful pop singer and griot.
RFI Music: Why have you taken the risk of bringing out two albums at the same time, given that the record industry hasn’t stopped shrinking for a decade? Sékouba Bambino: A few months ago I celebrated the 20th anniversary of my career. And I said to myself that I had to release an album or rather two, because they’re very different styles. Innovation has titles which made me popular in 1989-90, like Bambour (renamed Berce-moi – Ed.) or Ouba Cisse, which I did again 100 percent in zouk. For the second album, however, as a griot I also had to thank certain people who have been with me for twenty years. We call them diatiguiya; they’re my tutors.

On the Innovation CD, how did you get the idea to cook your old songs in a zouk sauce?
When I’ve done concerts, there’ve been some songs that I’ve often tried to change, to see what will happen. As they were well received when I played them in a zouk style, I thought that I should do an album in the same vein and see where it led us. That’s why we thought about Manu Lima from the Cape Verde, a good arranger who gave this album a lot of colour. I’d already worked with him, but not on a personal project. I worked with him when I was invited by Kabine Kandia Kouyate to work on his album Kouyate & Kouyate. He’s Sory Kandia Kouyate’s son.

Sékouba Bambino

Who are the "tutors" to whom you have dedicated songs on the other album, Diatiguyw?
Each diatigui contributed in their own way to my twenty-year career. Let’s take, for example, the piece Kaba Mousso, for Fatoumata Kaba: she’s a sister, a mother. She did everything for me. Each time I left France for Guinea, she brought me meals every day so that I wasn’t hungry – for breakfast, lunch and supper. She took care of my transport, sent me a car so that I didn’t have to walk the whole time I was there. She’s taken care of that for years. In the song, I say she’s someone who’s been sitting next to me for ages. Habiba, she’s a Tuareg, a Malian who’s always beside me each time I go to Mali. A woman without fault. As a griot, if I didn’t have a music career, I would have lived with my diatiguiya.

You’re celebrating your twenty-year career as a solo artist, but it mustn’t be forgotten that you made your debut with Bembeya Jazz National. What made you leave this legendary Guinean orchestra?
When President Sekou Touré died, four years after inviting me to join the group, he had already privatised all the national orchestras. And when we returned from a European tour with Bembeya, we didn’t play for two years because there wasn’t any equipment. We didn’t work. So I asked the conductor of the orchestra, Asken Kaba, if it were possible for me to do an album with my ideas using the orchestra’s name. Everyone agreed and so I recorded Sama.

With the group Africando, you’ve been supporting African salsa for more than 15 years. What is your personal story with this music?
To tell the truth, until I joined Africando in 1996, I’d never played salsa. The only salsero that I listened to in my childhood was Gnonnas Pedro. A lot of Guinean artists were influenced by this music – Balla et ses Balladins, Keletigui… But me, I grew up in a Guinean village on the border with Mali. During my childhood I often went to Bamako, 260 Km away, while Conakry is more than 600 Km away. At home we could tune in to Malian radio stations more easily than Guinean ones. My singers were Salif Keita, Mory Kanté, Kassé Mady Diabaté. Not artists that really did salsa. In 1996, while I was on tour in Germany, Bongana Maïga (a very well known Malian arranger – Ed.) called me to say that he needed me in Africando because he was looking for a Manding voice. He wanted Kassé Mady Diabaté, but he couldn’t get hold of him and in the meantime my name was mentioned. That’s how it started. I returned to Guinea and they sent me a ticket for New York to join Africando.

Sékouba Bambino Innovation (Lusafrica) 2012
Sékouba Bambino Diatiguyw (Syllart Productions) 2012 - Bertrand Lavaine


2012 - Diatiguyw (Syllart) et Innovation (Lusafrica)

2011 - Ma Guine

2008 - Syli National CAN 

2006 - CAN History 1957-2006 

2004 - Ambiance ballon / 15me anniversaire

2002 - Sinikan

1998 - Sily National II

1996 - Kassa / Bonya 

1994 - Sily National I

1992 - Le Destin 

1990 - Sama 

With the National Bembeya Jazz orchestra 

Wakelen (1988)

Sabou (1987)

Koumbatenen (1986)

Telegramme (1985)

With Africando : 

Betece (2000)

Baloba (1999)

Gombo Salsa (1997)



Sekouba "Bambino" is the stage name of Sekouba Diabat, a singer and musician born in GuineaWest Africa in 1964.

Bambino was born and raised in the village of Kintinya, some 25 kilometers from the town of Siguiri, close to the border with Mali. He was born into a musical family, and is descended from a long line of griots, known in some Mande languages as jeli. His mother died when he was three years old, but left behind a legacy in the songs she had recorded which her son later heard on the radio. Her music became one of his main influences. Her death left Bambino with his father, who did not encourage his musical aspirations, hoping he would follow him working in his transport company, but from age eight, Bambino Diabat sang with local bands and began to achieve musical renown. When he was 16, then-President Skou Tour, (a music lover) who had heard him sing with local bands, insisted that he join Bembeya Jazz, Guinea's best-known musical group.

Thus, in 1983, at the age of 19, Diabat was asked to join Bembeya Jazz, Guinea's best-known musical group. He was given the nickname "Bambino" to distinguish him from one of the group's guitarists also named Sekou Diabat (a.k.a. Sekou "Bembeya" a.k.a. "Diamond Fingers"). With Bembeya Jazz, the young vocalist undertook his first tour of Africa in 1985 and toured Europe the following year.

Sekouba Bambino released his first solo recording in 1991, and throughout the 1990s continued to record solo material as well as to sing with the African salsa group Africando. His 1994 album Syli nationale ("National Elephant"), was a homage to the Guinea national football team. His music is popular throughout West Africa, particularly in Guinea, Mali, and other countries where the Bambara andMalinke languages are spoken. He has become renowned for his vocal prowess, and his voice compares favorably with that of any of his home region's best male singers. He is little known outside Africa, however, as he has consistently chosen to remain true to his West African fan base. His most recent album was released in 2004. His latest single was in 2008. (in Wikipedia)

Sekouba Bambino (Lead Vocal)

Ansoumane Kant dit Yy (Percussions)

Makan Tounkara dit Badi (Ngoni)

Dioubate Sekou Oumar (Guitar Bass)

Ibrahima Soumana (Guitar)

Sayon Diabat (Chorus)

Mama Keta (Chorus)

Kaba Kouyat (Balafon)