Lamine Toure

Senegalese Drumming

Lamine Touré comes from a long line of griots, a caste of musicians and oral historians among the Wolof people of Senegal.  Born into a family of griot percussionists, masters of the sabar drum, Lamine has been drumming and dancing since the age of four.  Growing up in Kaolack, he received his early training as part of his family’s drum troupe, performing regularly at weddings, baptisms, and neighborhood dance parties.  In 1986, Lamine moved to Dakar, where there would be more opportunities to exploit his talents in the burgeoning popular music style known as mbalax.

1991 marked the beginning of Lamine Touré’s career as a percussionist in the modern music scene, when he formed his first group, Xiis.  After playing with Keur Gi, Diaspora, the Ballet Ousmane Cissé and the Orchestre Nationale, Lamine Touré joined mbalax star Mapenda Seck’s band in 1995, with whom he made his commercial recording debut, Jamilou.

A fast-growing success, Lamine Touré left Mapenda Seck in 1997 to join Alioune Mbaye Nder et le Setsima Group. From 1997-2001, he enjoyed a fruitful career as Nder’s percussionist, touring extensively within Senegal and throughout Europe and North America, with performances at Bercy (Paris), the Barbican Center (London), the Festival International de Jazz (Montréal) and Central Park Summerstage (New York).  Always a highlight of Setsima Group, Touré showcased his musical talent and versatility on a wide range of percussion instruments, from sabar and djembé to tama (talking drum), as well as in taasu (rhythmic poetry, similar to rap).

In 2001, Touré relocated to the U.S. to pursue his solo career. Since moving to the Boston area, he has performed with Soulsha, Regie Gibson, Bertram Lehmann, Natraj, John Medeski, Club d’Elf, Youssou N’Dour, Fallou Dieng, Pape & Cheikh, and Ceddo.  In 2004, he became the leader of Group Saloum, an Afropop band that fuses Senegalese mbalax with elements of jazz, funk, reggae and Afrobeat.  Group Saloum performs original mbalax music, drawing upon the collective creativity of Touré and some of Boston’s most talented musicians. Group Saloum’s debut recording has won critical acclaim, being featured on the Afropop Worldwide radio show, Africa in America-2005; their second full-length album is due for release in April 2010.  Group Saloum has performed at festivals throughout the U.S. and Canada including the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique (Montreal), Floydfest (Floyd, VA), and the Berklee World Percussion Festival (Boston).

Since Fall 2002, Lamine Touré has been serving as Artist-in-Residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he co-directs the Senegalese drumming ensemble, Rambax MIT. He has also taught sabar drum and dance at Boston University, Suffolk University, and Boston College.  In May 2005, he co-wrote a pioneering composition with Evan Ziporyn entitled Sabar Gong for sabar drums and Balinese gamelan, which was premiered at the MIT Presidential Inauguration of Susan Hockfield. He continues to teach sabar drumming and dance classes in the Boston area, conducting workshops and lecture-demonstrations at local schools and universities.

Lamine’s website