Cissoko is a distinctive kora player and vocalist. He was born
in Thies, a small town 60 kilometres from the capital of Senegal,
Dakar. His musical journey, as he calls it, began as he heard
his father, Soundioulou, and other musicians play the kora and
sing. At first the kora's 21 strings were always made from woven
animal hide but Soundioulou pioneered the use of nylon strings.
Doudou first became seriously interested in playing and composing
music when he was about 14 years old. He started to compose
in the 1980s but because of his young age it was not possible
to have his songs registered at the Senegalese PRS. They got
round that problem by getting his elder brother to do that on
Doudou's behalf. Also Doudou embarked on a 7-year course in
music theory at the National Conservatory in Dakar. After 2
years out of the 7, Doudou decided to concentrate on playing
the kora instead of learning theory, so he joined a local Ballet
company. One of the places he performed was Goree island which
was a popular and beautiful resort popular with tourists. Attracted
to Doudou's performances, some visitors invited him to travel
to Europe and he went to France in 1994.
In his time as a soloist Doudou opened performances by the well-known
Joe Zawinul and Johnny Copeland. However it was while he was
based in Bordeaux, and met double-bassist Jean-Jacques Plante
that his music began to really branch out and take new routes.
Doudou and Jean-Jacques started composing and
improvising together, developing the music in
They worked as a duo for about 3 years, then 3 more musicians
guitarist Dave Randall,
percussionist Frantz Flereau and cellist Nicolas Carpenter also
joined them. Their sound developed
and became much more rich in flavours, incorporating Latin,
Caribbean and jazz elements.
Doudou's debut album released in 2001 is Dimbaya.
Although he leads the music, Doudou insists that each of the
musicians involved influences it. He was joined by Jean-Jacques
Plante, Dave Randall, Frantz Flereau and Nicolas Carpenter for
the 10-track recording but on some tracks Doudou plays alone.
One of the tracks, 'Mariama Soundioulou' is a tribute to Doudou's
Doudou toured Britain with Jean-Jacques, to promote Dimbaya
in 2002 and was back for another extensive tour in November
2004. His soothing music is basically Manding but fused with
many other influences.