Look Who’s Praying: Landing Mané
14/11/2017, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
“Look Who’s Praying”
This three-concert series presents musicians from two sharply contrasting West African musical traditions from Senegal and Nigeria. As a result of the enormous cultural and political changes imposed throughout the region by missionaries and colonialism, most post-independence secular West African folkloric and popular music genres now seen on stages around the world have deep roots in the underlying spiritual traditions of the people making the music. Over two performances in 2017 and 2018, Nigerian musician, Dele Sosimi, will take his concert audience beyond the entertainment value and political messages of Afrobeat into the complex spiritual inheritance of the Yorùbá people that has partly shaped this popular music genre. As a teenage keyboardist Sosimi did a long apprenticeship in Lagos with the Afrobeat progenitor, Fela Kuti, so has a deep understanding of the layers of spiritual materials woven into his teacher’s unique musical style and compositions. In sharp contrast to Sosimi’s urban band, which will play in a club setting appropriate to the genre, Senegalese instrumentalist and dancer Landing Mané will present his percussion-based folkloric ensemble, Jamo Jamo Arts, in the School of Music’s Concert Hall. Reflecting the post-colonial stage performance setting of a young Senegal presenting regional music traditions, Mané will lead some of the U.K.’s leading West African musicians as they reach beyond the nationalist beginnings of secularized folkloric performance into some of the devotional practices of his own Jola people and their surrounding language groups.
Jamo Jamo Arts Landing Mané is from Senegal in West Africa and is both the Director of the School of Music’s West African Ensemble, Lanyi, and the founder and director of Jamo Jamo Arts. Perhaps best-known internationally as a dancer, Mané is also a skilled percussionist and plays a range of instruments from his own Jola people in Senegal. Mané was trained in contemporary dance and the post-colonial genre of folkloric stage performance among West Africa’s Francophone nations that came to be known as “African ballet” so is also accomplished in musical traditions from across the region. Many newcomers to African music imagine that the instrumentalists are improvising to accompany original choreography designed for entertainment. African ballet, however, is an amalgamation of regional spiritual traditions.
This Jamo Jamo Arts performance reaches beyond the 1960s program of secularization (or “demystification” initially led by Sekou Touré’s socialist government in Guinea) into the regional spiritual forms that were adapted for stage performance, many of which are still performed in healing rituals in community settings. Although Islam has a long and dominant presence in Senegal and there is a small Christian minority, the Jola’s own awasena spiritual tradition continues among traditionalists and lives on in their music. As one of the few musicians in the U.K. who knows the drumming and dances of the Jola bugarabu tradition, Mané will take the audience through the enduring esoteric awasena path. The ensemble will also perform the music of other spiritual traditions such as the kankouran dance of the neighbouring Mandinka people in the Casamance region of Senegambia and some devotional music of the Baye Fall Sufi sect unique to Senegambia.
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