18 - February - 2019

Zal Idrissa Sissokho & Buntalo

Afro - World
From Montreal, Quebec


Not all West African musicians are griots, the conveyers of the oral traditions of the Kouyaté, Diabaté and Sissokho castes, the three major family groups that continue to hand down the memory of the Mandingo peoples.

Zal Idrissa Sissokho has not only the name but also the traditions and background of this culture, in addition to an incredible talent for improvisation. Zal plays the kora and sings melodies, in both the Malinke and Wolof languages, that are inspired by or that borrow from the traditions of West Africa. He arrived in Montreal in 1999, and received a professional development grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec in 2001. Zal Idrissa Sissokho very quickly established a solid reputation on the Montreal music scene. He performs solo and also with many different groups such as Les frères Diouf, Celso Machado, Fakhass Sico, Lilison di Kinara, Richard Séguin, Takatja, the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir  and Muna Mingole, and has played on the albums of Corneille, IKS, Hart Rouge, Lousnak , Les frères Diouf and Musa Dieng Kela. Zal Idrissa Sissokho also performed for the Cirque du Soleil’s ‘’Ô’’ show in Las Vegas, as well as Robert Favreau’s movie ‘’Un dimanche à Kigali’’ (A Sunday In Kigali).  Recently, Zal was chosen among 12 other musicians for the documentary ‘’La symphonie du nouveau monde’’ produced by Luc Boivin and broadcasted at ARTV (Radio-Canada).  Tele-Québec’s ‘’Belle et Bum’’ invited Zal Idrissa Sissokho and his group in 2009 and 2011.  Zal also performed with special guests for the ‘’Mundo Montreal’’ series, produced by CBC Radio 2 and Espace Musique.  Zal Idrissa Sissokho has performed in many world-renowned festivals: Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, Francofolies, Montreal’s Jazz Festival, Sunfest in London, as well as several others in France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Spain and Morrocco.

In 2004 Zal formed the Afro-Mandingo group Buntalo, whose name refers to the crystal-clear sound of the kora, which charms the ear from the very first note. This 21-string African harp blends magnificently with contemporary Western music, which is why Buntalo, whose repertoire includes original compositions and Mandingo classics sung in Malinke and Wolof, presents a modern sound while preserving the authenticity of these centuries-old pieces. Zal is accompanied by Aboulaye Koné on guitar, Manu Pelé on bass, David Mobio on keyboards and Thomas Niamke Ehui on drums, along with special guest Tapa Diarra, who both sings and dances.

In 2008, Zal received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts for the recording of his first album and became the first kora player to release an album in Canada.  ‘’Silaba’’ (the Journey) was greeted with favorable reviews in the industry.  Following the release of his album, Zal and his group Buntalo were selected for a series of 10 performances as part of Montreal Arts Council’s ‘’Le CAM en tournée’’ program.

Winner of the Bourse Rideau award during the OQAJ-Rideau’ official showcase in Quebec City in 2008, Zal visited Mexico in October 2008 and performed duos with various artists.  Following the success of this tour, Zal Idrissa Sissokho was invited to perform in Brazil, where he toured several regions during the last 3 years.  In 2011, Zal shared the stage with Chico Cesar, Carlinhos Brown, Mauricio Tizumba, Fabiana Cozza and 14 other musicians for a performance recorded and broadcasted by Belo Horizonte television. 

In January 2012, Zal Idrissa Sissokho released his second album entitled ‘’Le partage’’ (Sharing).  He says: "If everyone felt responsible for the future of this earth, the future of each child as if it were his own, many of our problems would be more bearable. The human being is a paradox: it is equally capable of love, life and creation, as it can be a cruelty without name ... ".  With this album, Zal wants to speak to different cultures, countries and generations, in an effort to bridge cultural gaps through a spirit of celebration, music and dance. 

Watch A Video


PS21 Performance Spaces for the 21st Century - Chatham, New York United States - Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tamakan Project - Mexico (Tour), Mexico - Monday, April 8, 2013

Matapa Music and Arts Organization - Hamilton, Ontario Canada - Saturday, February 23, 2013

Diamantina Festival Inverno da UFMG - Mina Gerais, Brazil - Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Festival International Nuits d'Afrique - Montreal, Quebec Canada - Saturday, July 14, 2012

Vancouver Folk Music Festival - Vancouver, British Columbia Canada - Friday, July 17, 2009

Band Members

Zal Idrissa Sissokho - kora/voice David Mobio - keyboard Guy Langue - bass Thomas Niamke - drums Tapa Diarra - chorus/dance


Christian Fortin
Spectacles Buntalo
Email: christian.fortin@spectaclesbuntalo.com
Phone: 514-546-2045
Mobile: 514-546-2045
4375, Rivard Montreal, Quebec
Canada, H2J 2N1


Le Partage
Productions Nuits d'Afrique, 2013

Productions Nuits d'Afrique, 2013