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Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba / Press

“Aside from introducing area audiences to harp-banjo-dulcimer centaur the kora, Senegalese émigré Diali Cissokho has also effectively and impressively put his instrument at the helm of a rock band. Sure, some of this ensemble's drums are played with hands rather than sticks, and Kaira Ba's songs aren't erected or edited for typical formats. But the dynamics at work within this five-piece—the way the songs build, spiral and surge into moments of sudden triumph—should sync well with new Western listeners. Kaira Ba just might be the state's next great export.”

“The music needs no translation. Cissokho plays his kora with rock-like exuberance, well complemented by Westmoreland’s crisp guitar work and the polyrhythmic funk the rhythm section provides.”

“Cissokho, calls Kairaba! a “happy accident.” The 29-year-old kora master and griot (storyteller) Cissokho hails from a celebrated, centuries-old lineage of kora players — if asked, he’ll say he comes from the kora — and sought to make ends performing. He was instantly legitimized in the eyes of the esteemed Charles Davis, or Baba Chuck, of the African American Dance Ensemble in Durham after performing a particularly old piece uncommon to younger players. “It was a song before my father brung life. It is an old song,” Cissokho said. “Baba Chuck asked me, ‘How you know this song? How you play this? You are so young.’ I said, ‘I got a good memory.’” It was just one among the countless traditional pieces that Cissokho had been absorbing from his father Ibrahima Cissokho, who was once the personal griot to the first president of Senegal, since he was four years old. Then, his name spread.”

“Diali Cissokho, Kairaba’s bandleader and kora player, hails from a long line of Griot musicians in Senegal. But moving an ocean away from his musical past has only strengthened Cissokho’s resolve to enliven the traditional sound. With four Tar Heel natives behind him, Cissokho & Kairaba create a universally appealing sound full of bright tones and driving polyrhythm.”

“Charismatic and headstrong, Resonance makes a fitting signpost on Kairaba's road through a meteoric adolescence. So long as this brave vibration hangs in the air over Carrboro, music fans of all stripes should continue to resonate.”

“Diali Cissokho and Kairaba [is] my strongest recommendation for a must-see new band on the rise. Led by Pittsboro-resident Cissokho, a Jimi Hendrix of the kora, with his nephew talking drummer Sidya Cissokho, plus an American-style backing band of drumset, congas, bass and electric guitar. The West African harp-lute may be dreamy and poetic solo, but Cissokho uses it to stoke a bluelight basement party in Kairaba, a word which means "love and peace" in Manding. Diali's natural charisma as a vocal performer may come from his centuries-old griot heritage, but he will also put you in mind of Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and other griots of New World soul.”

“Kairaba—their experimental kora-and-guitar-driven West African dance band—ignited like a match on dry tinder when Cissokho first got together with John Westmoreland, Will Ridenour, Austin McCall and Jonathan Henderson this past January. Kairaba made its public debut at the Nightlight in February, followed by a tent-shaking performance at Shakori Hills in April. Since then, cognoscenti have reveled in a series of free concerts at Talulla's. Word of mouth began to snowball earlier this month when Kairaba opened for Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré at Local 506, introducing the band to a packed house of new fans.”

“Senegalese kora player Diali Cissokho performs with Kairaba!, a percussive Carrboro five-piece that sticks closer to the West African griot tradition from which he descends. Jubilant melodies and dance-friendly rhythms assure the fledgling group's performance will be the night's most infectious.”

“Diali Cissohko’s five-piece Senegalese griot-rock fusion group's story is told as much through the 21-string kora as it is the electric guitar, and their West Africa-meets-Piedmont vibe sounds as ageless as it does progressive.”