Here's some burning footage of my teacher (standing, playing the lead sabar drum, called n'der) and his brothers. These boys can play! This took place about 5 minutes walk from their compound where I've been taking my lessons. A baptism here takes place when the baby is a week old. A marabout (Muslim priest, or imam) whispers koranic verse in each ear of the baby first thing in the morning, then a whole lot of feasting and music-making goes on all day long. When we arrived to play at 4pm, they weren't quite ready for us, as there was a DJ blasting m'balax on some huge speakers. So we played along, the way many m'balax groups here have 5 sabar drummers as well as guitar, bass, drumset, etc, in the band.
People were perplexed and pleasantly suprised as I played along with the Sing Sing Juniors. I'm not ready to play programs with them, but playing along to records, no problem. If I was here for another few weeks of lessons, I'd be ready, but alas, I've got to get back. Its cool, though, because I'll be accompanying Babacar Mbaye's dance classes in Chelsea every Saturday that I'm in town. So i'll get to continue on with sabar in New York, which I'm looking forward to. This was the problem last time I came back from Africa. I was in LA, and didn't know any Mandinka drummers there, so I played as much as I could, taught what I knew to some students, but didn't have the chance to really build on what I'd learned. I'm a drumset player ultimately, so it all contributes to my concept, and I'm fine with that. The idea of spending a year in Brikama playing Mandinka drums has crossed my mind, and staying in Dakar for an exended period is attractive too, but ultimately my home base for now is New York and I'm enjoying working wth folks there too much to drop off the map as it were. Anyways, enjoy the Sing Sing Juniors!