Music

BALLAKÉ SISSOKO RELEASES NEW VIDEO ‘JEU SUR LA SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE’

NEW ALBUM: ‘DJOUROU’ – OUT NOW ON NØ FØRMAT! 
STREAM 
HERE

Malian kora player Ballaké Sissoko today releases a new live video to accompany ‘Jeu Sur La Symphonie Fantastique’, lifted from his widely praised new album ’Djourou’, out now via Parisian label Nø Førmat! (Oumou Sangaré, Blick Bassy, Mélissa Laveaux). The track – on which Sissoko is joined by clarinettist Patrick Messina and cellist & long-term collaborator Vincent Segal is captured by a live performance video filmed in the leather atelier belonging to Segal’s wife. Having previously partnered on projects with Toumani Diabaté, Taj Mahal and Ludovic Einaudi, across ‘Djourou’ Ballaké also collaborates with the likes of African legend Salif Keita, Nouvelle Vague’s Camille, French rapper Oxmo Puccino and leading female kora player Sona Jobarteh. The video for ‘Jeu Sur La Symphonie Fantastique’ is now available to stream here.

WATCH ‘JEU SUR LA SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE’ HERE

The realisation of ‘Jeu Sur La Symphonie Fantastique’ began when the Berlioz Festival (held annually in France) invited Ballaké to create a piece to mark the 150th anniversary of Hector Berlioz’s death. The re-imagining of Symphonie Fantastique which he in response has created with Messina and Segal – focused around the piece’s ‘March To The Scaffold’ segment – draws parallels between the martial themes of Berlioz’s composition and the epic historic battles of Sissoko’s own Mandinka people.

The seeds for ‘Djourou’ itself were sown when he approached Nø Førmat! to propose an album blending solo kora pieces with unexpected collaborations. For the latter element, Sissoko’s brief was simple – to seek out diverse artists with very little in common with the Mandinka musical genre for which his griot caste is celebrated. As label head Laurent Bizot puts it, “Challenge accepted!” With a mutual emphasis placed on taking the time to confirm enriching partnerships with artists who are crucially also fans of Ballaké’s work, ‘Djourou’ has been a slow-burn project, in the making since 2018. The album’s careful intention also chimes with its title, ‘djourou’ a Bambara word meaning string. A nod not just to the 21 strings found on a kora, but the ties that also connect Sissoko to the artists who collaborate with him across the new album.

Ballaké Sissoko was first drawn to the kora at a young age, learning from his father Djelimady Sissoko, a master performer who played with the Ensemble Instrumental Du Mali, of which he was also deputy director. When Djelimady passed away whilst his children were still young, Ballaké stepped up to take on his role not only as breadwinner for the family but in his country’s national orchestra. A natural fascination with other genres beyond Mandinka’s scope such as flamenco guitar and and the Indian sitar kick-started a series of critically praised collaborations including those with Vincent Segal, an ongoing musical conversation which is still paying dividends here on ‘Djourou’.