FARAFINA was founded in the early eighties. Right from the beginning they were enthusiastically welcomed by their audiences who were fascinated by so much virtuosity.
Their ability to expand their music without denying their traditional instruments has enabled them to experience new forms and record with musicians such as Jon Hassell, the Rolling Stones, Ryuichi Sakamato, Daniel Lanois, Billy Cobham, Joji Hirota…they played several times at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and for 72 000 listeners at the famous Nelson Mandela’s birthday concert in the London Wembley Stadium.
Their music interweaves complex and forceful rhythms and is carried by the melodic lines of balafons, flute and koras. The songs are played on traditional instruments while their lyrics deal with present issues of African realities in a critical though hopeful way.
But they stayed faithful to their own track. So while integrating new orchestral forms and melodies, and adding contemporary sounds (guitar and keyboard), the balafons, koras, flute, djembes, tama, and baras still remain the core and hearth of their music.Last but not least, the arrival of a female voice introduces a new colour to this up till now male only ensemble.
During their odyssey of 30 years the group naturally faced some changes. Thus, its founder Mahama Konaté left the group in 1991. Others came and went and still others died. New and younger musicians have joined the group. All came in through the so called “Farafina School” which continues the African tradition of having the children, from their youngest ages on, attend the concerts of their elders and trying to repeat the music they hear all day long.
In this way an astonishing and remarkable musical continuity is guaranteed. Farafina creates a subtle music that is sensitive and ardent at the same time. It draws your body and mind into discovering not only the African life but a universal life nourished with rhythms leading all the way to the roots of jazz.
Reinvented by encounters with modernity, Manding influences, the music of Burkina Faso’s neighboring countries, the melodies of the people of Mali, Niger and the legends of Kong and the chants and drums of Ghana and Benin, all contribute to the richness of Farafina’s s work.