Master Exam Concert Video

Here is a video with highlights from my master exam concert with the NJAWARA band feat. guest Bamba Gueye recorded at the royal college of music (KMH) in Stockholm 1 april 2016. As part of my master’s studies I delved into the Senegalese music genre called Mbalax and put together my own mbalax show “Le Spectacle”.

My interest for the Mbalax music started back in 2011 when I was attending a course called the Gambia course at the royal college of music in Stockholm. Part of it wast to go to the Gambia in West Africa for three weeks. There in a village called Njawara we got to meet four of the main ethnic groups of the Gambia and learn about their muisc, dance and culture. I was really mesmerized by the wolof percussion and dance tradition called Sabar. It was because of it’s perplex and powerful rhythms and fun dance moves. This lead me on to a path of discovering this music even further back in Sweden and I also got into the mbalax music genre that uses the Sabar rhythms in a pop/rock instrument setting.

To explore the mbalax music I put together the NJAWARA band and made an repertoir consisting of transcribed mbalax songs by Youssou N’Dour, Aida Samb, Viviane Chidid, Salam Diallo and so. I also made a couple of own songs. Later on during my master’s studies I concentrated more on writing my own mbalax songs through analysing and listening to many mbalax songs to find common elements of the style.

Four of the songs from the master exam concert were also released as an EP. The NJAWARA – Let’s Go EP can be found on digital platforms like spotify, itunes and youtube. Check it out by clicking the cover art below!

NJAWARA – Let’s Go EP

  1. Five Step
  2. Sunland
  3. Middle Bi
  4. Timbalax

NJAWARA - Let's Go EP

The band

Nikolas Viisanen – trombone, taasou, sabar
Sara Ohlzon – vocal
Jonathan Haraldsson – guitar
Sebastian Bergström – keyboard (nordelectro + nordlead)
John Runefelt – keyboard (marimba + x-station)
Juan Patricio Mendoza – bass
Robin Cochrane – drums
Babacar Ndiaye – sabar
Davide Rodrigues – sabar
+ guest: Bamba Gueye – tama, bongo, taasou och dance