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MAMADOU BARRY  ''NIYO'' (GUINEA CONAKRY, 2009) MAMADOU BARRY ''NIYO'' (GUINEA CONAKRY, 2009) MAMADOU BARRY  ''NIYO'' (GUINEA CONAKRY, 2009) @ Mamadou Barry, the renowned Guinean saxophonist and former director of the Kaloum Star orchestra, is still going strong in his sixties. "Master" Barry recently went into a Conakry studio with the best local musicians to record his debut solo album, Niyo. This compelling mix of Afro-beat grooves and hypnotic Mandingo rhythms confirms that Guinea is still producing exceedingly good and original sounds.Mamadou Barry belongs to a generation of musicians who grew up in a country where culture was wielded as a political instrument in post-independence days. Music played a significant role in forging national pride and the Guinean government financed the setting up of a national label, Syliphone, to record the growing band of national and federal orchestras. Interestingly enough, musicians were also financed by the state in those days, drawing regular salaries like other civil servants."Maître" Barry - so called because of his short career as a school teacher - began conducting Kaloum Star (a federal orchestra from Conakry) in 1969. The orchestra recorded a first LP in 1973 which was followed by a number of singles. Kaloum Star, who eventually released their official debut CD album in 1996, put themselves on the music map by modernising Mandingo folk sounds and opening traditional music up to jazz and Afro-beat.Niyo taps into much the same vein, the sleeve notes proclaiming that Mamadou Barry's debut album is "to be filed under: Africa / cool grooves.

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