Kakraba Lobi is a virtuoso master of the gyil (pronounced JEEL or JEE-lee), the traditional instrument of the Lobi people of Ghana, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast. After stints as a cab driver, farmer and just about every occupation in between, Lobi realized his calling as a gyil player, becoming, over the years, the instrument’s premier player.

In traditional societies, the gyil was considered a healing instrument and gyil players had almost shamanistic duties, officiating at funerals and other sacred events. But those listeners looking for a New Age vibe will be disappointed. Like the marimba (its closest Western counterpart), the gyil straddles both rhythm and melody. Its rhythms are uproarious. Combined with the instrument’s melodic twists and turns, the effect is almost psychedelic.

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