Discuss djembe masters and prodigies here
By bubudi
epizo was born in conakry, guinea, to a susu father and a malinke mother in a musical family. he trained primarily on the bala and djembe. his bala skills were noticed and he was invited to join the ballets africains with djembefola papa ladji camara. soon after he joined fatala and then the koteba ensemble in the ivory coast.
epizo2.jpg (21.27 KiB) Viewed 4071 times
epizo travelled to france in 1984 and came to new york in the early 1990s, where he performed with the dance theatre of harlem as well as starting his own band called african express along with some jazz musicians. after 2 visits he migrated to australia in 1996 forming a new band with the same name. with this band he recorded and released 2 cd's: n'na and inchallah, recorded in australia with african express. some of those members moved on to join mohata (his younger brother mohamed bangourake's band) or other projects. epizo also played with mohata for a few years before departing to paris where he now lives.

epizo has worked with many artists such as: salif keita, mory kante, doudou n’diaye rose, papa ladji camara, abdullah ibrahim, kassemady diabate, sekouba babino diabate, mark helias, don pullen, ed blackwell, regina carter and jane cortez.
epizo1.jpg (18.13 KiB) Viewed 4071 times
here is a video of his balafon playing. although he studied the traditional mande/susu bala, epizo likes to mix this with many other styles of music and he is able to successfully adapt his music to any style. in his own compositions he particularly likes to integrate jazz and reggae with traditional west african music.

epizo is a friendly guy with a great musicality full of subtelty. his personality and ability allowed him to learn the dances and percussions, which he was also required to know for the ballets. to this day he is praised for his dancing ability and teaching, even by people who have been exposed to masters far more famous for dance. through serious practice he became a very proficient djembe and dunun player. this is something that he transmits in his teaching - he is very demanding of his students and can inspire them to work hard and improve very quickly.

participants in his camps such as the yearly week-long drum and dance camp at bundagen community (6 hours north of sydney) know of his incredible energy and teaching ability where he choreographs the dances, teaches several rhythms, songs, and his own breaks to around 50 or more drummers or dancers at a time.

epizo also plays kora very nicely which is the main instrument featured on his latest cd released in 2007, n'na nin n'fa. i have seen epizo play the drumset which he does very well. he's also able to play ntama, ngoni, guitar, bass, congas, gongoma and piano. here's a sample of his kora playing:

sadly, although he plays a little djembe in parts of his albums, epizo hasn't yet released an album showing his amazing ability on the djembe.

discography: (have a listen on http://www.epizobangkora.com)

1999 - n'na
epizo - n'na.jpg
1st release with african express
epizo - n'na.jpg (33.81 KiB) Viewed 4075 times
1. bawama - christine
2. n'na fanta
3. diye / bogne Ma
4. n'fa ousmane
5. word of rhythm
6. my blues 1
7. hell time of my life
8. bougna - (respect)
9. n'khougni (my head)
10. party time
11. n'yarabi - my lover
12. baladeur
13. kora - sounds Of seduction
14. no more war in africa

2000 - inchallah
epizo - inchallah.jpg
2nd release with african express
epizo - inchallah.jpg (29.64 KiB) Viewed 4075 times
1. komo
2. b+
3. african express
4. fabe
5. inchallah
6. 11th
7. african vibe
8. n'teme nan ma
9. manma
10. afrotech
14. no more war in africa

2007 - n'na nin n'fa
epizo - nna nin nfa.jpg
3rd cd featuring epizo's kora playing
epizo - nna nin nfa.jpg (18.77 KiB) Viewed 4075 times
1. n'na nin n'fa
2. fakoly
3. dream time
4. kote n'dimi
5. touba ka
6. n'gawobe
7. miriya
8. sega
9. la guinee

2010 - djembe instruction vol. 2 (DVD)
1. Yankadi Makouraou
2. Mane
3. Sofani
4. Koukou
5. Yole

some other cds featuring epizo include les ballets africains de papa ladji camara (1993, featuring epizo on bala) and percussion ensemble by louis cesar ewande (1988).
User avatar
By Nodrog
Hi there,

I am fairly new to this forum and I must say, from all the video clips I have been checking out, this guy is my favourite so far. I really like the way he uses trad African instruments and playing techniques but is not afraid to bring in outside influences such as reggae.

I am a big fan of reggae music myself and have played reggae music either in bands or by myself over the last thirty years.

This guy is inspiration for me to carry on and get my djembe into some of this reggae/calypso style.

Thanks for posting, Gordon. :dance2:
User avatar
By michi
I'm leaving day after tomorrow to do his week-long camp near Coffs Harbour. He is a phenomenal musician, and not just on drums. And his djembe playing is out of this world. He's up there with Mamady, as far as I am concerned.


User avatar
By michi
bubudi wrote:epizo also played with mohata for a few years before departing to paris where he now lives.
BTW, Epizo got his Japanese permanent residence a year ago and now lives in Japan, as far as I know.


By bubudi
i heard a rumour about that (japan) but wasn't sure. it's good to have that confirmed. i just tried his website and it is in english and japanese... he has a great following in japan. enjoy the workshop and post a little something about it in the workshop forum after you get back.
User avatar
By michi
bubudi wrote:i heard a rumour about that (japan) but wasn't sure.
He told me that he had received his visa during last year's Bundagen camp and said that he would be living permanently in Japan. I don't know when he actually moved, but I'm pretty sure he did.

He'll be running a camp in Osaka 12-18 October and another 4-day camp in Tokyo a few days after that.
enjoy the workshop and post a little something about it in the workshop forum after you get back.
Will do!


User avatar
By Waraba
Didn't he start "Fareta" in NYC?
By BobF
Waraba wrote:Didn't he start "Fareta" in NYC?
Did you mean Feraba? If so that was founded by Abou Sylla and Irene Koloseus. Abou's no longer in the group but I believe they still perform in and around NYC.
User avatar
By Waraba
No, definitely Fareta.