Listening to the minidisc from my first sabar lesson. One of the members of the family I'm staying with, Babacar, took me to the family compound of the sabar group Sing Sing Rhythm, one of the major Sabar families in Dakar, introduced me, made it all cool, etc. Thank you Babacar! My teacher for the afternoon was a 19yrold mofo named Malick Faye. This young dude is superbad. The Faye family were psyched that I seemed to be picking stuff up fast and Malick did alot of improvising on top of the two skeletal rhythms he showed me; N'daga and the finishing music groove (didn't catch the Wolof name yet). A couple months studying kutiro drums in Gambia winter 2002-2003 has given me some facility with one-hand, one-stick West African drumming traditions. Sabar and kutiro are closely-related, yet somehow worlds apart. They are regional neighbors and one certainly influenced the other or perhaps they influenced the other (the subject of my disseration if I ever end up doing an ethno phD).
It should be said that the family knows these rhythms inside-out, plays them, dances them, hears them from when they're in their mother's stomach, feels their mom dance to them, and understands them literally as words in Wolof. During my lesson, one boy barely 2 years old was playing most of the N'daga rhythm along with us on a flipped-over wash pale. Incredible!
Its been such a frustrating pleasure to sink or swim speaking French again. The last time I spoke French extensively was in Gambia. There are so many people living there from West african countries who speak French, so I had the chance to work on my French there. But in Senegal its all the time; very little English here. So I try, and people are patient with me, which I appreciate.