CDs, books and DVDs
By gerhardkero


A barren landscape dotted with trees, goats picking at dusty blades of grass; the roadside is lined with women on their way to market, balancing bowls of vegetables on their heads; children play as their mothers cook in front of shacks; metallic sounds ring out from a mechanic’s workshop; and as we get closer to the city, the concentration of people, traffic, trade and noise increases.
Then we hear music: an outdoor festival is taking place. Drummers with female singers and dancers. Bleakness transforms into splendour, dullness into diversity, simplicity into captivating complexity, the profane becomes the profound.

What we are witnessing is Naani: Drissa Kone, Oumou Mariko, Gerhard Kero and Ulli Sanou making space for both emptiness and abundance as they pay homage to the Malian beauty of djembe music and song.

Listen and look:


was founded in 1989 and can already point to a long and eventful history. The movement started when a small group of west African music aficionados made an LP called ‘Sanza’. Since then, an evolving line-up has captured the public’s imagination with CDs of traditional djembe music entitled ‘Sanza live’ and ‘In search of the one’. The group also made a successful foray into world music with a CD release called ‘Doubtless Living’. By then, the core of the group comprised Drissa Kone, Oumou Mariko, Gerhard Kero and Ulli Sanou. Today, their approach is to strip back performance to the essentials: after all, fire needs to be contained, feeling doesn’t have to lead to sentimentality. These traditional, earthy rhythms are all about inspiring creativity, breezy arrangements emphasising the lightness at the heart of the music.

Drissa Kone

is a widely respected djembe player who has captured the attention of many far beyond the borders of Mali.
At an early age, and against the will of his parents, he began drumming in his home village Kuruba. When he was 13 years old he moved to the capital city Bamako, where he found his long-time inspirational master in the deceased Yamadou Bani Dunbia. In the 1980’s Drissa toured throughout Mali as a popular festival drummer and soloist for numerous ballets. In 1989 he met Ulli Sanou and Gerhard Kero in Mali. In 1991 he came to Europe for the first time to join their music group SANZA. Drissa spent the next 7 years thrilling fans with his remarkable djembe at countless concerts. Later engagements took him to France, Spain, Norway, Germany and Switzerland.
Drissa is a unique djembe player. His deep understanding of the tradition and a life spent as a drummer in celebratory music has made him highly popular with dancers and enabled him to develop a style characterised by complete commitment to melodic patterns.

Oumou Mariko

A professional singer and dancer from Mali, Oumou Mariko launched her career in regional dance companies. She was a celebrated star of traditional festivals for years before coming to Europe. During the 1990s she began touring with Sanza, captivating audiences with her passionate yet elegant steps and vocals. Back in her homeland, Oumou offers a point of contact for professional dancers from around the world; she is also a renowned singer with scores of TV and radio appearances.

Ulli Sanou

Late in the 1980s, Ulli Sanou’s passion for rhythmic music prompted her to give up the jobs she’d had to that point and devote herself to a vocation rather than a trade. Since then, her musical journey has encompassed numerous study trips to the west African nations of Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea as well as years of performance experience with Sanza and other groups. Together with Gerhard Kero, she runs the beatfactory school of drumming in Vienna.

Gerhard Kero

acquired a wealth of musical knowledge over time by travelling abroad to study non-European musical cultures. For him, the many years he spent in west Africa made the deepest impression. The spectrum of his stage and artistic experience embraces everything from world music and pop to experimental jazz. His solo project keromono, on which he produced an entire CD of djembe music by himself, attracted a great deal of attention. Numerous recordings capture his wide-ranging repertoire on many percussive instruments, including congas, bongos, djembe, darabukka, frame drums, berimbao, dundun, konkoni, krin, jaw harp, water drum, hang, talking drum and more. He runs the beatfactory drumming school in Vienna in partnership with Ulli Sanou.

Drissa Kone: Solo Djembe

Oumou Mariko: Vocals

Gerhard Kero: Dundun, Konkoni

Ulli Sanou: accompanying Djembe

Total playing time: 00:55:16

All songs written and arranged by Kone / Mariko / Kero / Sanou
Recording / Editing: Otto Trapp / Synoir Studio /
Mixing: Trapp / Kero
Mastering: Harry Pairits
Coverdesign: Grafikteam Wawrinek /
Cover photo: Gerhard Kero
Liner photos: Gerhard Kero / Ulli Sanou
A beatfactory music production /
Distribution: Extraplatte Musikproduktions- und Verlags Gmbh /


1 Deme sebe
2 Nyumaya
3 Mali fasa
4 Tumani
5 Biriko
6 Juguya
7 I ka wale
8 Sanfinye
9 Deme
10 Burun
11 Eh mogolu
User avatar
By Dugafola
i picked up a copy of this CD while in africa.

the track list may look foreign but a lot of the classics are represented: madan, suku, farabanka, dansa, maraka, tansole...

fans of drissa will really like this CD.

User avatar
By djembefeeling
It ain't necessarily so! I am a fan of Drissa, but don't like the CD. There is a reason the track have different names than the originals: the style is very different. Not my up of tea, but taste is hard to argue about...
User avatar
By Dugafola
someone needs to record him playing in a natural setting. similar to kurbamako but better quality. i know he worked with his group including dancers and singers for a video. i'm not sure how it'll be released but he assured me that it'll be available this year.