The rhythms Mamady Keita draws from the djembe can make one feel as though awakened from centuries of sleep or even perhaps strangely nostalgic. They are at once familiar and fresh, offering the forgotten comforts of a mother's heartbeat and stimulating senses unused in everyday modern life.
The djembe is a traditional West African drum made from a hollowed log covered with goat skin. Three thin, metal plates protrude from the drum, and these are fringed with small rings to produce a very soft tambourine sound. It is generally played together with three other drums -- the kenkeni, sangban and dunumba -- at village ceremonies, and dancers perform to their rhythms. This month, Keita and his band, Sewa Kan, bring this tradition to Japan.