Aly Keita
(Côte d'Ivoire)

Aly Keita is an extraordinary balafon player from Côte d'Ivoire. Born in 1969 in Abidjan, he was initiated in playing the balafon by his father. He builds his balafons himself, and adapted them by adding gourds of different sizes as resonators. Well-tuned, his balafon has a unique sound, and his superb mastering of this instrument makes his performance an unforgettable event. He builds up a song from a simple phrase to a complex polyphonic fabric. When performing solo, he fills the stage as if a second balafon is playing along with him.

On his debut album, « Akwaba Iniséné », he is backed by a band made up of various musicians of the Contre-Jour stable, such as Kélétigui Diabaté and various Gangbé Brass Band members from Benin. On a part of the tracks, the superb voice of Dobet Gnahoré is added. Not only because of that, but also by the way of playing balafon, there is a strong jazzy feel on the entire album, but the album will be appreciated by both lovers of traditional African instrumental music as well as lovers of cross-over and afro-jazz. This is a remarkable debut!

Musicians on « Akwaba Iniséné »:
Aly Keita balafon, sanza (10)
Patrick Ruffino bass (1-2-4-6-7-9-11)
Boris Tchango drums (1-2-4-6-7-9-11)
Dobet Gnahoré vocals, percussion (1-3-6-9-10)
Martial Ahouandjinou trombone (1-2-4-11)
Magloire Ahouandjinou trumpet (1-2-4-11)
Colin Laroche de Féline guitar (3-9)
Kélétigui Diabaté balafon (12)
Mahamadou Koné tamani (12)
Gangbé Brass Band balafon (13)

Born: 1969, in Abidjan
Style: instrumental / balafon / mandingo / afro-jazz

Aly Keita and his balafon
Aly Keita and his balafon  


Title Year Label Remarks
Farafinko 2010 Contre-Jour CJ026
Akwaba Iniséné 2007 Contre-Jour CJ016


Page added December 2007