Momo ‘Wandel’ Soumah (1926-2003)

11. 10. 2008 | Rubriky: Articles,Lives

[by Ken Hunt, London] The Guinean saxophonist and clarinettist, gravely voiced singer and songwriter, Momo ‘Wandel’ Soumah died in his homeland’s capital, Conakry on 16 June 2003. Of Baga tribal stock, he survived the, at times, perilous crossing from colonial times (exemplified by stints in dance bands with names redolent of the period such as La Joviale Symphonie and La Douce Parisette) to independence. During the socialist years of Sékou Touré’s presidency, an Afro-centric sound was de rigueur. Momo ‘Wandel’ Soumah was part of a music scene that met the president’s request for change and national identity head-on with a music that mixed tradition and technology.

After Touré’s death, a new flowering of music occurred and external influences again permeated the fabric of Guinean pop music – as if music’s skin is ever impermeable. This last period created plenty of musical moments for Momo ‘Wandel’ Soumah. In his last years he was the music director of the Paris-based Circus Baobab. For a flash of his music, beeline for Afro Swing (1999) (credited to Momo Wandel), the much delayed follow-up to Matchowé (1992) – an album that, bringing it all back home, included Afro-Blue. Alas, Matchowé like much of his work is out of print.

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