Dahui Ensemble performance review

Kenne Thomas

An excellent performance was given by the African drum ensemble, DAHUI at the Ethiopian Village, Saturday Jan. 22 in Chicago, Illinois. The event was called a "Drum and Dance Party." It was more than that. It was a coming of age for world music. Five percussionists gave a musical concert, sans any melodic instruments which was as melodic and harmonious as any orchestral ensemble. The drums provided the melody with their versions of such standard West African pieces as Kassa, Mandiani, and Koukou.

The members of Dahui, many of whom studied in Africa, performed with a zest and verve that had the audience not only mesmerized but interactive. They came out of the rear of the restaurant, with jembe strapped on, flailing with an intensity that captivated everyone. The solitary Doun doun player kept a very strong pulsating beat walking with his singular drum until he set in down in a trio of drums: Kenkeni, Sangban, and Doundounba. The drums were vertical in front of him in a triangle formation for speed, which he displayed with extraordinary dexterity and stamina.

Their call and response chants were a perfect blend of spontaneity and pacing for the audience to feel comfortable with the enthralling thunderous sound of their resonant doun doun and jembe. Everyone took solos in the packed room egged on by the multi-aged audience.

Kids to senior citizens sat at tables, on the floor, and around the walls, captivated and writhing to the ostinato of the doun douns and polyrhythmic patterns of the four jembe players. Dancers, from the audience, seemingly spellbound, took to the stage area with the encouragement of everyone. With smiles and sweat pouring, bodies undulated with the current of the rhythms and everyone was swept away and seemingly transported to the shores of Senegal and the Cote D'Ivoire. It was an exciting evening enhanced by the delicious spicey buffet of African food and semi-sweet "Addis" brew. If anyone has a chance to catch this exciting quintet of community drummers I would encourage you to do so.

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