By: Lamin Sam Jaiteh.
From a purely superficial point of view, it is something of a relief to see that Jally kebba Suso, the talented young Kora player performed on a spectacular mode at the Rich Mix Centre in London.
On Saturday the 24th February, Jally Kebba and his band Manding Sabu launch their 2nd album, Banjul-London. Recorded over three years and two continents, in London and Gambian studios, the result is a ten-track album full of praise songs, dance hits and even a lullaby.
Jally Kebba Suso and band, maintain the respect of their peers and undoubtedly increase their profile and experience in the last ten years in expanding the boundaries of griot kora tradition into new worlds and soundscapes. This is his second album and is a result of his explorations of traditional styles, jazz and funk. It is immediately accessible and elevating and yet filled with nuances and intoxicating rhythmical layers that give the music depth and intrigue.
At the album launch, Jally Kebba played with a vitality and musical emotion that is captivating at a range that shows the imprint of a promising musical personality to the delight of a sell-out audience.
He is one of those budding stars yet to be fully recognised in Africa. Jally is however well known in the UK and has performed at several music festivals and appears on various TV shows, including BBC and ITV.
So while Jally Kebba’s on stage performance displays eminence, the explosions are not just the mastery of the 21-string musical instrument-The Kora, but rather a mixture of the elegant, stylish and gently humorous. This, you sense, is a person who wants to be taken seriously, but also wouldn’t mind being allowed to have a bit of a chat, laugh…. now and again.
Born in April 1981, Jally Kebba grew up in a musical family-one of the siblings of Bully Suso, the famous Kora player at Tobacco Road in Banjul. Jali Kebba made his international debut at the age of 13 when he played Solo with his 21 string Kora at the world Scout Jamboree in Holland. He later joined the ‘Maslabi Posee’ a hotchpotch, hip-hop descant Senegambia rhythm rap group that won the 1999 Gambian best single award with their single “Merro”.
Jally Kebba broke off from the group in search of a greener pasture and for a totally different experience. In September 2002 he swung his Kora over and across his back and headed for England.
VIDEO: Jally Kebba Susso- Banjul London album launch Feb 2017 (Pt 1)
“It’s a tricky choice for me but this is my destiny. In Suso Kunda ( his homestead) no one tells you what to do with the Kora. It is part of the family and I like it as well because it’s my culture which I am very proud of”. I must also tell you that this is my livelihood here in the UK and a very good tool to show the metropolitan communities in the UK what my culture and country is like.” He said.