Singer and songwriter, Zal Sissokho is also a great kora player. Originally from Senegal, he marvelously combines his openness to the world with his desire to preserve his culture and the oral traditions of the people of West Africa. He sings in Malinke and Wolof and is nourished by the encounters that mark his journey, thanks to which he continues to learn and share.
He arrived in Montreal in 1999 and has received several grants from the Canada and Quebec Arts Councils since 2001. He performs solo and with many artists such as the Diouf brothers, Celso Machado, Constantinople, Fakhass Sico, Lilison di Kinara, Richard Séguin, Takadja and Muna Mingole.
In 2004, he formed the Afro-Mandingo group Buntalo, which finds the perfect balance between the modernity of their compositions and the classical Mandingo repertoire, thanks to the kora. Charismatic and enchanting, it blends wonderfully with contemporary Western music and the musician’s impressive improvisational skills, in a style he likes to call “tradimodern”.
The band released three albums between 2008 and 2017, which were very well received by both the public and the critics. Buntalo takes advantage of this showcase to make his music and the unique sound of the kora known. His first album Silaba, selected as part of the Montreal Arts Council’s touring program, allowed him to perform a series of ten concerts between September 2007 and June 2008. In 2008, Zal received the OQAJ-Rideau award, which opened the doors to the Mexican scene.
His ancestral melodies, his artistic sensitivity and his generosity give Zal Sissokho a privileged position in the musical landscape of Quebec, but also internationally. He participated in the Cirque du Soleil’s O show in Las Vegas, in the music for Robert Favreau’s film Un dimanche à Kigali, and in Mathieu Roy’s L’Autre Maison, selected for the official opening of the Montreal World Film Festival in 2013.
On February 7th, he released his new album Kora Flamenca: a poetic journey to discover the African roots of flamenco. This album, published by Analekta following a creative residency at the Centre des musiciens du monde, is first and foremost a wonderful encounter between Zal Sissokho and one of the few female flamenco guitarists, Caroline Piché. The will of both artists to combine their specificities rather than to merge them gives the ensemble a unique character, at the border between history and experimentation.
From this musical project emerges a delicate and elegant atmosphere, which will undoubtedly be sublimated by the intimate character of the Gesu, as part of the Prestige series.
Zal Sissokho, accompanied by Buntalo, draws from the 21 strings of his kora a call for dialogue and solidarity.