Français: : Great drummers

Diabaté Inza

Musicians or bands:

djembéfola (griot) burkinabé

Biography and commentary:

Inza Diabaté is a griot percussionnist from Burkina Faso (born in 1954), who performed the first educational video on the djembe and dununs playing ("The Djembe" Improductions, 1998). What I find ramarkable in this video besides the striking quality of Inza creativity in totally solo djembe playing, it's the evident use of the concept of "swing" (a silent note added to each beat to "ternarise" the pieces in slow tempo) that some historians somewhat hasty consider a pure and essential invention of jazz (American) so as Georges Paczynski incorrectly asserts in his "Une histoire de la batterie de jazz" ("A history of drumset"). Inza makes "swing" traditional accompaniment polyrhythms (which shows that the independence of hands is not an invention of jazz either) on "dununs" (big drums) and "kenkens" (cowbells). He has learned these precise musical phrases from generations and generations of oral transmission from father to son, from griots (kind of Mandingo shamanic musicians holders of oral knowledge). These polyrhythms (also named and perpetuated by several griot families) are undatable but surely very, very old (maybe thousands of years?). It is clearly the “swing” musical concept because when he plays again the same basic phrases in faster tempo, the silence of notes disappear to return to a binary measure. Besides, Mamady Keita do the same on the demonstration CD of his reference educational book "A Life for the Djembe". In his djembe total solo (without accompaniment, which is a modern musical genre as practiced by Mamady Keita), Inza shows (besides improvisation, which is "classic" in Mandingo music) that perpetuate the tradition does not require the "traditionalism", by integrating typical Cuban playing techniques (palm-fingers) and Brazilian ("mixed stick").

Marc De Douvan, publication in French: January 3, 2006 (for the translation in English: July 12, 2015)

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