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Malima Kone and Les Harmonies
March 27, 2012
traditional African roots mixed with acoustic reggae
Catherine (Cat) Espinoza - harp
Miles Styler - drums
Ben Lindsey - guitar
Miles Berry - bass
Wireless Lovebird - piano, percussion
Annie Stafford - saxophone Mondjou Kone - Backing vocals Ben "ProfessorSlap" Isaacs - percussion
Tuesday, March 27
Malima Kone was born into the renowned Kone family of West Africa. Throughout his childhood his parents instilled in him a deep respect for their culture. Like his extended family, Malima comes from the ancient Jeli (griot) music tradition of the Bwaba people, dating back to the Mali Empire. His grandfathers were masters of the bala xylophone, jembe drum, and kora, the 21-string harp lute. The Jeli transmit the history of their people through song, music, and dance. In essence the Jeli are the walking, living library of culture and oral tradition passed down from generation to generation.
Born in Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso, West Africa, Malima, originally named “Salifou” by his parents, received the name “Malima” by his grandfather, which means “the way it is!” In Burkina Faso, a country the size of Colorado, with 17 million people speaking 68 languages, culture is often based on music, dance, art and agriculture. At the age of two Malima began playing jembe and bala, and learned the kora the very next year. At just five years old, he began performing with his father and uncles, studying music with his brothers, sisters, and cousins. He soon joined Maison Des Jeunes du Burkina, a youth music ensemble which toured Mali, Ghana, Madagascar, France, Monaco, the United Kingdom and Germany. Malima began composing his own music and lyrics at the age of fourteen.
Filmmaker and founder of the African Family Film Foundation, Taale Laafi Rosellini met Malima’s family in Ouagadougou in 1968 when he was a Peace Corps volunteer. He became a close friend of the family and began documenting their music on film and audiotape. Over a span of two decades Rosellini filmed a feature documentary, Great Great Great Grandparents’ Music. Malima appears several times in the film, including a scene where he is is playing jembe and bala at age 2. Great Great Great Grandparents’ Music had its world premiere in 1997 at FESPACO (Festival Panafricain du Cinéma de Ouagadougou), the largest African-themed film festival in the world. The film received the Prix Spécial, and was also nominated for Best Documentary by the Los Angeles Pan-African Film Festival. To learn more about the film, please visit: www.africanfamily.org
As the forerunner of generations of his family’s cultural heritage, this modern Jeli offers us a unique style that mixes traditional African roots with world acoustic reggae. Malima sings in five languages—Bwamu, Bamana/Jula, Moore, French and English. He bases his lyrics on life experiences from childhood and as he sees the world today. He currently lives and teaches in Santa Cruz, teaches music in California and throughout the United States, and tours with his band, Les Harmonies. He continues to travel back home to his roots in Africa, finding inspiration while visiting family and friends. You won’t want to miss his extraordinary Yoshi’s debut along with the members of Les Harmonies.