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Foday Musa Suso
 Music    Musicians    
Foday Musa Suso  is an internationally recognised Kora  playing Mandingo griot who was born in 1950 in the Gambian village of Sarre Hamadi, a village in the Wuli District, in the Upper River Region. He is a virtuoso master kora performer and composer from a hereditary lineage of other Jalis.

After spending his childhood in Banjul, the capital, he was sent to Pasamasi Village where he was taught by Saikou Suso, his uncle, when he was nine years old. He would sometimes be under the tutelage of another of his uncles Falimada Suso. After 7 years of rigorous formal training he became an accomplished player of the kora, balaphone (African xylophone) and the tama. Such an apprenticeship is a standard feature of learning music in Manding because it is considered important for achieving proper discipline and concentration. Unlike most musicians in Manding society, Suso's talents are shared among many instruments. When he had finished his training he had now put to memory past tribal conflicts, family lineages, the epic oral histories of the Manding people and its cultural heroes from the great Sujatta onwards.

Foday Musa Suso made trips to a number of European, Asian and African countries teaching, and performing, as well as learning from others. He spent two years at the Institute of African Studies, University of Legon, Ghana, as a resident instructor of the Kora.

In 1977 Suso flew to Chicago, in the US, where he began his recording career as well as forming a group, Mandingo Griot Society, with the percussionist Adam Rudolph. The group have appeared at New York's Carnegie Hall and Central Park Summerstage, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Frankfurt International Jazz Festival in Germany and at the Cultural Center in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.  Since then, he has taught and recorded with many well known jazz artists, including the trumpeter Don Cherry, and Herbie Hancock, with whom he recorded the album, Village Life, while on their tour of Japan. The group opened new ground in what is known as World Music in numerous other collaborations, such as with Ginger Baker using Suso's skillful and heavenly playing of the West African lute in a number of pieces.

After the band broke up they Suso re-united with its members Rudolph and Hamid Drake in 1984 to create the album Watto Sitta. The album was produced by Bill Laswell, and was a milestone of modern African music, skillfully and effortlessly merging Suso's cutting-edge kora playing with an effortless equilibrium of natural and synthesised tunes.

Since the early 80's his various collaborations and work has included working with Pharoah Sanders,  Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet an ensemble who commissioned him to compose five works. They collaborated at venues ranging from New York's Lincoln Center and California's Institute of the Arts to the Staatsoper Opera House in Vienna, Austria and the Royal Festival Hall in London In traditional, contemporary, minimalist, classical and avant-garde settings he's cast the kora in both lead and supporting roles where its emotive, shimmering sound finds ever new levels of beauty and boldness.

Record Labels:
Island, Lyrichord, Folkways, Axiom, CBS, Sony, Flying Fish, Celluloid, CMP, Point Music/Philips Classics, Ellipsis Arts, Rhizome Sketch, Polygram, and Elektra Nonesuch.

Career High Points:
Foday has also performed on several film soundtracks including Roots, Powaqqatsi, and Mountain of the Moon. Other high-lights of his career include working as a performer and consultant for a Japanese documentary film on African music and the book/CD, Jali Kunda: Griots of West Africa and Beyond.

Links & Official Website: 

Contact Details:
Email: fodaymusasuso[a_t]

Kora Music
from the Gambia

Sounds of West Africa
The Kora & The Xylophone

Mandingo Griot Society
With special guest Don Cherry

Mighty Rhythm
Mandingo Griot Society
1981, Flying Fish Records FF 269

Mansa Bendung
Foday Musa Suso,
Tamba Suso and Jarju Kuyateh

New World Power

The Dream Time
Foday Musa Suso

Hand Power
Foday Musa Suso

Julu Kemo
Foday Musa Suso

Mandingo Watto Sita
Featuring Foday Musa Suso

Jali Kunda
The Griots of West Africa and Beyond

Ancient Hearth
Mandinka and Fulani music of The Gambia

Village Life
Herbie Hancock & Foday Musa Suso

Foday Musa Suso

Pieces of Africa
Kronos Quartet

Jazz Africa
Herbie Hancock, Foday Musa Suso,
Aiyb Dieng, Adam Rudolph,
Joe Thomas, Hamid Drake, Abdul Hakeem

Music From the Screens
Philip Glass and Foday Musa Suso
Foday Musa Suso



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