• Matapa Music and Arts Organization

Zal Sissokho – February 23 as part of Roots en Route

Zal Sissokho
at the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts

A Closer Look at this Artist:

Not all West African musicians are griots, the conveyers of the oral traditions of the Kouyaté, Diabaté and Sissokho castes, the three major family groups that continue to hand down the memory of the Mandingo peoples. Others such as Gaolo warriors are often mistakenly ennobled, here in Canada, with the title of griot.

Be that as it may, Zal Idrissa Sissokho has not only the name but also the traditions and background of this culture, in addition to an incredible talent for improvisation. Zal plays the kora and sings melodies, in both the Malinke and Wolof languages, that are inspired by or that borrow from the traditions of West Africa. He arrived in Montreal in 1999, and received a professional development grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec in 2001. Zal Idrissa Sissokho very quickly established a solid reputation on the Montreal music scene. He performs solo and also with many different groups such as Les frères Diouf, Fakhass Sico, Lilison di Kinara, Takatja and Muna Mingole, and has played on the albums of IKS, Hart Rouge, Lousnak and Les frères Diouf.

In 2004 Zal formed the Afro-Mandingo group Buntalo, whose name refers to the crystal-clear sound of the kora, which charms the ear from the very first note. This 21-string African harp blends magnificently with contemporary Western music, which is why Buntalo, whose repertoire includes original compositions and Mandingo classics sung in Malinke and Wolof, presents a modern sound while preserving the authenticity of these centuries-old pieces.

Zal released his latest CD, le Partage in 2012.

Here’s a video to check out: