From Lobi I present you a concert recording from early in his (unfortunately by his death in 2010 stopped) career in 1994 in Köln, which was last year rebroadcasted by FunkHaus Europa - World Live.
Biography of Lobi Traoré (from 2003 by MAJ)source: mali-music.com (in 2006 closed down K7 label from Mali)
Lobi then became an "initiated" directly at birth. Generally in komo, men become true adults quite late. Before circumcision, the adolescent joins the "komo", and for three or four months undergoes tests of character such as leaping across fire, passing through a forest inhabited by lions and hyenas, or going a whole day without food and water.
In the second phase, the true initiation, both his knowledge and behaviour are subject to scrutiny before he is allowed to enter into the mystery of the "komo". He gives his word never to betray the secret society or to reveal its mysteries; this is why the Bambara say: "When you join the komo, you never leave".
When you mention the word "komo" to Lobi Traoré, his expression goes blank as if he hadn't heard you and there's no point insisting! he can not and must not speak of the komo ! He took his footsteps in this traditional family of artists and has an approach of music which is evidence which can not be called in question.
At 16, he crossed the river and arrived in Ségou to join a folk group as a Bambara singer. He then left for Bamako and played in another similar outfit before meeting his first musical master, who gave him a guitar.
Three years later he discovered the Djata Band, Zani Diabaté's orchestra, then the rage in Bamako; this was one of the first Malian orchestras to tour France in the early eighties, to sing the Bambara repertoire. (Mali includes many ethnic groups and in each musical formation there are often several singers, each addressing their own ethnic public, be they bozo "fishermen", peuhl "shepherd people" or Songhai, "they are from the Timbuktu region"). When Lobi Traoré started his solo career he played for weddings and in bars. It's at the Bozo, an important live music venue (now closed) in Bamako famous for its beer, that the public discovered and appreciated his Bambara blues in the early nineties. Since then he has recorded three albums and toured extensively in Europe, Canada and Africa. He also met the Paris blues harmonica player Vincent Bucher who accompanies him often and has helped him develop the material for Duga album.
When blues from Bamako meets blues from Chicago...
During his last tour in 1996 May Lobi Traore invited Vincent Bucher* with his harmonica for a jam on the stage of the New Morning in Paris. And it sounded as if they always played together. "Immersed in a superb dialogue, the guitarist-vocalist and the amazing harmonica player weaved a heart-rending music, like a furious wind that would have been captured by the Sahel desert". This meeting has now given birth to a trio with a calebash player to give the tempo. Lobi Traore plays his mesmerizing ballads and sings his songs in honour of the ancient Bambara kings in the bars of Bamako.
He toured with this band in Europe (Germany, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and France) and Africa between 1994 and 1996. He recorded his first album "Bambara Blues" in 1991, then "Bamako" (1994) and "Segou" (1996) under musical direction of Ali Farka Touré.
I included this mali-music biography, because I like the Malian perspective in it. But as it's from 2003, it's not actual and doesn't mention his sudden and completely unexpected death in 2010.Jun. If you want to read a more recent biography, check this one from his last international record label.
*in recent years Vincent Bucher has performed and recorded with Boubacar 'Kar Kar' Traoré
Listen to a track from the concert
LOBI TRAORE 19941029 - Funkhaus Koln (FHE)
setlist: 1.Warani / 2.Sontan N'gni (cut in) / 3.Dunuya / 4.Tchana Diani / 5.Sadiourou / 6.Djankana / 7.Maby Djoudon Don / 8.Malo Magny / 9.Abarika / 10.Salaminya / 11.Fatoumabe
Discography of Lobi Traoré1991: Bambara Blues (K7, Buda Records/Cobalt)
1994: Bamako (CD, Buda Musique) produced by Ali Farka Touré
1996: Ségou (CD, Cobalt)
1999: Duga (CD, Cobalt)
2004: Mali Blue (comp, CD, Dixiefrog)
2005: The Lobi Traoré Group (CD, Honest Jon's Records)
2007: Barra Coura - Acoustic Bamana Blues (CD, KSK Records)
2008: I Yougoba - with Joep Pelt (CD, Diesel Motor Records/Excelsior)
2009: Rainy Season Blues (CD/LP, Glitterhouse Records)
2010: Bwati Kono - Raw Electric Blues from Bamako (CD, KSK Records)
2013: Bamako Nights - Live At Bar Bozo 1995 (CD/LP, Glitterbeat)
Listen/Watch more from Lobi:
- interview by KSK with live cuts - watch
- live on ORTM with Ali Farka 1995 - watch
- live 2007 with Joep Pelt at club Djembe, Bamako - watch
The coming week the FHE - World Live program has some interesting artists: Mamar Kassey on wednesday Jun.08 / Imarhan on friday Jun.10. After broadcast the shows can be listened to (for the next day only!) on the loop.