From Mali to Benin and from West Africa to the Caribbean, carried by a ﬂamboyant orchestra of strings, skins and brass, the voice of an adolescent genius explores the creole experience. For this pan-African journey between soul and Sahelian blues, the group Kala Jula has grown and has a new look, drinking from the sources of Benin’s voodoo as much as from those of the jeliya, the tradition of the griots (storytellers, poets and musicians) of the Mande.
In October 2019, the Valaisan artistic association Djinn Djow Productions celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in tribute to an eminent exponent of the Mandingo griot tradition and one of the most brilliant Malian singers of his time, Kassé Mady Diabaté, who died in Bamako on 24 May 2018 at the age of 69, by bringing to the stage his nephew, the young singer Fama Diabaté. Aged 14 at the time of the show, his voice had already won the attention of the Aga Khan Foundation which selected him to represent the griot tradition on several international stages.
With him, the guitarist Samba Diabaté and the multi-instrumentalist Vincent Zanetti (initiator and artistic director of the project) reinvented their ensemble Kala Jula for a world premiere at the Théâtre du Crochetan in Monthey, inviting the legendary Gangbé Brass Band, pioneer of the Benin brass music revival.
Presented for the first time at the Théâtre du Crochetan in Monthey, Switzerland, on 3 October 2019, the show was the subject of a double recording, audio and video, by Lionel Darbellay and Gilles Vuissoz, respectively sound engineer and director within the Valaisan artistic collective Dimension Cinq. After an initial online release of the video on Vimeo in late 2020, compensating for the postponement of the concerts due to the health crisis, the publication of the album ASRO by the French label Buda Musique on 17 March 2023 represents both the completion and the consecration of this project. It will be followed by a series of concerts in four major theatres in French-speaking Switzerland: the TKM Théâtre Kléber-Méleau in Renens (29-30 April), the Théâtre du Crochetan in Monthey (4 May) and the Théâtre de l’Alhambra in Geneva (organized by the ADEM, Ateliers d’Ethnomusicologie de Genève, 5 May).