La Source (the Source), the latest album from our national griot and Quebec pride, Zal Sissokho, lives up to its title: after the ecumenical Kora Flamenca released in 2020, Sissokho returns to the source of his musical soul, Mandingo music. Like the prodigal son in the fable, his return is a joyous one. The nine tracks on the album plunge us into sunny, festive panoramas that make us want to dance, smile and celebrate the beauty of life. In that sense, it’s also a post-pandemic album, doing good where it counts: in the heart and in the mind. Radio-Canada World Music Revelation Djély Tapa takes a turn on Labannya, Diely Mori Tounkara, another Montreal griot, makes some beautifully lyrical appearances (he and Zal are ”les Griots de Montréal”) and Élage Diouf, a well-known musician in Quebec and Cirque du Soleil artist, co-produces the album. Buntalo is the band Zal has teamed up with for over 20 years, so the consistency and coordination are impeccable. We’d like to take this opportunity to salute Donald Dogbo on percussion, Carlo Birri on bass, Assan Seck on guitar and David Mobio on piano. Also worthy of mention is the beautiful piece La Dignité, with a text written and narrated by Gilbert Dupuis, Quebec comedian, with music by Zal of course. A fine reflection on the fact that the sun abandons us because we are no longer worthy of it. A fine example of cross-influences, between the Quebec of committed storytellers and the griots of wisdom from Africa. The result is an inspiring “quebafricanity” firmly rooted in our northern soil. What a delightful reality!
La Source is an album worthy of the great international Mandingo music, from Seckou Keita and Ablaye Cissoko to Habib Koité and Djelimady Tounkara. Well, well. Thanks, gang.