Famoro Dioubate | Sarah Lawrence College African Percussion Ensemble

The Sarah Lawrence College African Percussion Ensemble's lunchtime performance was not on the roster of student concerts to be recorded. But on May 8, 2008 at about 12:15 PM, I made the decision to haul a laptop, an Mbox 1, and my new Earthworks microphones down to Bates Dining Hall. By 12:30, about 20 musicians were gathered in a large circle, and I pressed record.

In spite of any minor weaknesses on the part of the students -- many of whom had no previous musical experience -- Famoro Dioubate clearly had taught them well, leading them with astonishing facility on his balafon. He is, after all, the inheritor of a prestigious 800 year-old family tradition. The result is incredibly endearing and exciting.

I present here a excerpt from the first number they played. You'll hear how the crowd noise quickly changes from indifference to silent awe. Hopefully you'll also be able to hear why it is one of my favorite recordings ever.

Find out more about Famoro and his 2008 record, Dununya, here.