Xalam
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Xalam

Enniskillen, N Ireland, United Kingdom

Enniskillen, N Ireland, United Kingdom
Band World Jazz

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"Return to the Musical Scene. Xalam makes good on its bet."

Nobody would have believed it! Nevertheless, that is what has happened. The group Xalam is back in the game. They performed yesterday at the Quai des Arts in Saint Louis where they made a big impression. These musicians of proven talent revisited their rich repertoire and fired up the packed cultural centre. It was like listening to their CD. We didn't feel the absence of either Prosper Niang, whose memory hovered nearby, nor the horn players Ansoumana Diatta or Yoro Gueye. Despite their absence and the presence of only four founding members of Xalam 2 (Henry Guillabert, Ibrahima Coundoul, Taffa Cisse and Baye Babou) this astounding performance gave everyone the impression of being face to face with the complete Xalam 2. As for the other musicians on stage, Cheikh Tidiane Tall produced his inimitable lyrical sound. Most impressive was Abouldaye Zon, the young drummer from Burkina Faso, who had the unenviable task of replacing Abdoulaye Prosper Niang. Jean Philippe Rykiel remains the sould of Xalam's music, marking his presence with the groove that has always made the group unique. Souleymane Faye and Ibrahima Coundoul, professionals that they are, succeeded in retaining the vocal inspirations from the 70s and 80s. This all proves that Xalam is back and it is good for Senegalese music and for music lovers everywhere. - e Matin, Senegal. Saturday August 16 2009


"Ten Years on Xalam returns in Force"

The mythical group Xalam were reunited with the Senegalese public after more than a ten year break. During their concert at the Just 4 U club in Dakar on Saturday evening, the group brilliantly demonstrated once again that the flame has never actually died. And they all came through with flying colours as the band revisited their repertoire with glee. The members of the audience, having turned out in droves, gave an enthusiastic and warm welcome to the godfathers of Senegalese music and they showed that they had lost nothing of the energy and the dynamism which always set them apart from other groups. Both singers contributed tremendously to restoring this magic flame. On a backdrop of African percussion toying intimately with funk and pop melodies, Souleymane Faye pulled new rabbits out of old hats with the legendary "Doley" and "Yoow".
Xalam is a pioneering group, the inventors of the music of modern Senegal. Champions of openness, they deliberately chose to be inspired by traditional music in order to create a new musical style, a music of dynamic, powerful and efficient rhythms, a mixture of soul, jazz, funk, rock and some hints of mother Africa with brass instruments so shiny as to be incandescent and vocals melting with emotion. - Le Messager, Senegal


"Xalam warns the winter in Niort"

Although they've recorded nearly a half dozen CDs, these musicians were nevertheless the percussionists for the Rolling Stones and partners in crime with Michel Bland for "Walk in the Shadow". In all the African music hubbub from recent years we had almost forgotten them. The Xalam sound is in tact and their craftsmanship distinguishes them from all other cross-breed apprentice-magicians who attempt this kind of fusion - Nouvelle Republique


"Quote from"

The members of Xalam completely embody the image, at once primitive and yet so futurist, of an Africa in full mutation - Rock Sound


Discography

Recorded LPs:
"Berlin Horizonte"
"Goree"
"Apartheid"
"Xarit"
"Wam Sabindam"

Photos

Bio

In these days when 80s retro is all the rage, the Senegalese supergroup Xalam, who were at the height of their fame in that decade, rivalling Osibisa, Fela Kuti and Hugh Masekela have made a comeback The Afro jazz/rock fusion which made them famous may have been influenced by Cream, Led Zepplin, James Brown and Ray Charles but their reunion concerts in Dakar have proved their music is timeless.

The Xalam story began on a tide of optimism and intellectual fervour. The years following Senegal’s Independence on 4th April 1960 were infused with a spirit of black pride. The tone was set by the nation’s poet president, Leopold Sedar Senghor, who initiated the first World Festival of Black Arts in Dakar in 1966 attended by Duke Ellington, Aime Cesaire, and Alvin Ailey among others. In the city’s nightclubs Aminata Fall was singing her moody blues. Music stores were selling vinyl LPs imported from Europe, Cuba and the USA. A newly emerging bourgeoisie, who had settled in suburban villas at Sicap Amitie, attended Friday night Music Clubs, sharing their love of American soul, R & B and jazz. On Sunday afternoons, the populous of Grand Dakar packed picnic baskets and strolled through the streets of Point E and the residences of Fann on their way to the Corniche seaboard and the beaches at Ouakam, Yoff and Ngor. Life was for living Senegalaisement.

The group Xalam, named after the traditional African lute, was created in 1965 by Professor Sakher Thiam, a former government minister and aspiring guitarist. They performed at the Gamma Club, a chic venue in the Rue Carnot x Wagane Faye until 1972 when they were eclipsed by their own protégés..

The musicians who became known as Xalam 2 included the charismatic Prosper Niang on drums. Henri Guillabert played guitar alongside Baye Babou on bass and the vocalists were Khalifa Cisse and Ibrahima Coundoul. The arrival of three talented graduates from the Dakar Art School, Yoro Gueye on trombone, Ansoumana Diatta on saxophone, and percussionist Moustapha Cisse prompted a radical change of musical direction for the group who decided to explore Senegal’s vast and varied musical folklore and from it create a modern Afro jazz/rock fusion. Samba Yigo’s guitar was naturally funky and rock. Ansoumana’s phrasing was uniquely his own and contributed significantly to the overall sound. What set Moustapha Cisse apart from other Senegalese percussionists was his knowledge of jazz, for his father owned an extensive collection of jazz LPs.
Young, handsome and talented, the Xalam musicians gained a growing fan base. “They were our Beatles,” says Clarisse Mbodj. “We were all in love with them.”

Hugh Masekela invited Xalam to perform at a fund raising festival for the ANC in Monrovia. They came with a new song, “Apartheid”. Fela was there and Miriam Makeba and her husband, Stokely Carmichael, who drove the Xalam boys home in his limousine after the show.

In 1979, Volker Krieger, a German musicologist and jazz rock guitarist, who was touring West Africa, chose Xalam to support his stage show in Dakar. Dressed in shrill red satin shirts, the group made a dramatic entrance from the crowd raising a percussive storm of African rhythms as they approached the stage. Krieger then invited them to take part in a festival in Berlin alongside Gilberto Gil and while they were there they used their concert fees to record their first album, “Berlin Horizonte”.
During 1980 when they took part in a Jazz Festival organised at the Club Med resort in Dakar, they ate at the grill bar with Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Clarke, Stan Getz and Jimi Owens who were immediately attracted to their music and jammed with them on stage.

Then Xalam moved to Paris where Prosper Niang was a natural leader with a talent for organization. He recruited French keyboard player, Jean Philippe Rykiel, who professed a passion for Thelonius Monk and Frank Zappa but whose keyboard samples replicated the sounds of the African kora, marimba and balafon. From Dakar, he brought Souleymane Faye, a consummate artist with a singular voice.

Xalam travelled to England to record “Goree” their first international album, at Ridge Farm studios in Surrey where they were guests at the manor and played football on the lawn. The sound engineer handed a tape of their music to Mick Jagger who invited Brahms Coundoul and Moustapha Cisse to play percussion on the Stones’ album, “Under Cover of the Night”. They supported Crosby, Stills and Nash at the Hippodrome in Auteuil, Paris.

In 1988 tragedy struck. Prosper Niang, who had the heart of a lion, died of cancer aged 35. The group gradually disintegrated though some of those who remained in Paris represented Xalam at Woodstock 25 years on but it would not be until 2008 that the band decided to re-form in Senegal. Abdoulaye Zon, a talented young drummer, from Burkina Faso with a similar feeling and technique to that of Prosper came on board. After