Mamadou and Vanessa
Fula Brothers are a burst of unbridled creative musicianship and happy making. A high spirited meeting of veteran performers from West Africa and America, each with an illustrious history of innovation and collaboration with some of the beloved musicians across these cultures. Together they weave West African hunters harp, fingerstyle guitar, drums, vocals, and a bounty of improvisation into an ecstatic groove based dialogue which the heart - and the feet - cannot resist.
Walter Strauss |
Fingerstyle guitarist Walter Strauss’s unique multi-layered style draws on American roots, jazz, classical, and global music traditions. For 15 years, he has delved deep into the music of West Africa, collaborating with well-known practitioners of the kora (a 21-stringed West African harp) and the kamale ngoni or hunter’s harp. Walter’s guitar rendering of the music of the kora has been described as “inspirational” by kora legend and cultural ambassador, Toumani Diabate. He is a rare guitarist who can arouse a dance floor by himself, and his guitar interpretations of music from other international stringed instruments are showstoppers.
In addition to his solo work throughout the US and UK, Walter is known for his international collaborations. He has teamed up with diverse artists including Grammy-winning Malian kora player Mamadou Diabate, Scottish fiddler Jonny Hardie and Grammy-nominated American guitarist Alex de Grassi. Walter has performed internationally at venues like the Kennedy Center, the Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland, and Le Diplomate in Bamako, Mali. Most recently, he created music for the Ken Burns documentary film “Defying the Nazis.”
Master kamale ngoni player, Mamadou Sidibe, is from the Wassoulou Region of Mali, West Africa. Twenty-five years ago, Mamadou played a groundbreaking role in the transformation of this region’s music from its origins in hunters’ sacred melodies – played on six string donso ngoni (hunter’s harps) – to a music of philosophical observations, politics, and daily life. Mamadou was one of the first to expand the instrument’s range with two extra strings, creating the popular kamale ngoni. He has recently enhanced the kamale ngoni even further by devising 10 and 12-stringed instruments.
Mamadou, with artists Coumba Sidibe, Oumou Sangare and Ramata Diakite, spread the new sounds through recordings and performances in Europe, Africa and the United States. Not only is Mamadou an award-winning musician and master of the kamale ngoni, he is accomplished on several other African instruments as well.
“At the center of his music is the same sensibility that you’ll find in Muddy Waters: a sense of music as a tool for the re-creation of everyday life into something special, even magical.” ~ Stylus
Grammy nominated drummer/percussionist/educator Colin Douglas was born in New York City into a musical family. As the son of a music producer, he grew up experimenting with many different instruments and soon settled on drums and percussion. Colin went on to study percussion at both the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music as well as Manhattan School of Music where he worked extensively in both the classical percussion and jazz drumset programs. After college he became interested in the world of latin percussion and studied both in Cuba as well as with many master percussionists in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he has lived and played professionally for 16 years. Colin has performed and recorded with a diverse group of musicians ranging from Latin acts like Jesus Diaz y su Qba, Ray Obiedo, and the Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet with whom he received a Grammy nomination in 2013, to R&B and rock acts such as Donna Summer and Slash.
Fula Brothers: Ayang Tolo