Idrissa Soumaoro et L’Eclipse de L’I.J.A. – Nissodia (Joie De L’optimisme)

• “Nissodia (Joie De L’optimisme)” set to a picture of a related compilation album. Thanks to Mr Bongo.

8.6 “Excellent Disco / Funk from Mali”

From their album “Le Tioko-Tioko” (ETERNA 8-30-084) released in 1978.

If this track doesn’t make you feel happy today, you may well actually be dead already; the piece oozes optimism.

Idrissa Soumaoro, born near Bamako in 1949, is one of the relative unknowns in Malian music, taking part in a number of important developments, but letting others take the spotlight in general. A teacher as well as an artist in his own right, his work with the blind, his musical idioms and performances seen him decorated in 2002 as a Knight of the National Order of Mali for his contributions to culture.

This LP was recorded in 1978 with blind teenagers from the school where Idrissa was teaching music in Bamako. The very name of the orchestra, the Eclipse, is a metaphor for sun/moon, day/night, blind/non blind. The I.J.A acronym stands for Institut des Jeunes Aveugles, the name of the school. Apart from the fabulous chorals from the youngsters, there’s a very cool organ played by Idrissa himself, some nifty funk guitar from Amadou Bagayoko (one of the blind students) and excellent lead vocals from Amadou’s future-wife Mariam Doumbia (also one of the blind students).

I’m led to believe that copies of the original record were given as gifts to the students and others, but never sold on the market. And that most of them are thought to have been lost or destroyed during the revolution in 1991.

Even though it was reissued in 2015 (and repressed again in 2017) by Mississippi Records, it has sold out in most locations, although you can find it today at Mr Bongo.