Les Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako
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cd cover Les Ambassadeurs
Les Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako (Stern's)
cdRoots Code: st-3065-66

A specially mastered double album compilation of the original 1975 - 1977 recordings by one West Africa's greatest bands, the one which first set Salif Keita on his road to worldwide success. Including tracks never released digitally or on CD before, also containing the first ever release of two recordings from the vaults of Radio Mali. The whole album reveals both the traditional and international side of this inspired band. In 1969 an ambitious army lieutenant, a key member of the new junta which had seized power only the previous year, decided that a band was needed to entertain customers at the Motel De Bamako, then a popular venue set in the shade of mango trees on the banks of the river Niger. With his patronage, a group coalesced and in 1972 it attracted guitarist Kanté Manfila, followed a year later by perhaps its most famous member, Salif Keita. The band took its job seriously. It is a great pleasure to present this compilation of specially mastered recording from 1975 - 1977, when the band was at its peak and in residence at the Motel de Bamako.


01 Bolola Sanou 05:00
02 Nagana 07:06
03 Saranfing 07:03
04 Wara 08:45
05 Djoula 06:15
06 N'Na 08:27
07 Yassoumouka 05:49
08 Mana Mana 05:55
09 Djandio 12:01
01 Mali Denou 10:45
02 M'Bouran - Mousso 06:03
03 Sabar 04:01
04 Tiecolom-ba 05:13
05 Ambassadeur 04:30
06 Ray M'Bote 04:30
07 Fatema 05:00
08 Radio Mali broadcast tape 1 02:46
09 Radio Mali broadcast tape 2 04:38

The supernal singer Salif Keita, groundbreaking guitarists Kanté Manfila, Ousmane Kouyaté and Amadou Bagayoko (now famous as half of Amadou & Mariam), saxophonist Moussa Sissoko, organist Idrissa Soumaoro, and the extraordinary bala-xylophonist and fiddler Keletigui Diabaté — they (and as many others) were all in the great West African band called Les Ambassadeurs.

They came together from several bands from four different countries (hence their name) in Bamako, Mali, in 1970. The man behind this all-star ensemble was a high-ranking officer in the military junta that governed Mali. He was eager to affirm his influence by entertaining VIPs at his favorite hangout, the Motel de Bamako, located among shady mango trees along the Niger River, and to succeed he needed an attraction at least as strong as the Rail Band, which was in residence at the popular Buffet Hotel adjacent to the city's central train station. Les Ambassadeurs immediately created a sensation with their skill at various styles, including Afro-Cuban, jazz, R&B, rock, and modernized Manding classics, and in 1973 the Rail Band's star vocalist, Salif Keita, left the Buffet Hotel to join his peers at the Motel de Bamako. In the mid-70s Les Ambassadeurs were the pre-eminent Malian band, releasing hit after hit, touring West Africa, and even making appearances in France.

The new Sterns Music 2-CD album includes 18 recordings made by Les Ambassadeurs in Bamako between 1975 and 1977 (before politics compelled them to relocate to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where they became known as Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux). Most of these tracks have never previously been reissued on CD, and two of them — Radio Mali live recordings — have never been released until now. All have been especially mastered for this album. The album booklet contains illuminating notes, rare photographs, and reproductions of LP covers.

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