HUM'BALAX is the combination of the two words, Humppa and M'Balax.
Humppa is the traditional dance music of Finland while M'Balax is the modern dance music of Senegal.
In 1979, a few years after starting Piirpauke, I went to West Africa hoping to find some new ideas for my music. The moment I was there I knew I hit a gold mine. The Etoile de Dakar band had just been founded and they included me there as their first sax player of the band! Youssou N'Dour was already the rising star in the sky of Senegalese music and we had gigs almost every night.
It was a very challenging experience for me because I was the first "Toubab" (Senegalese word for White man) ever joined in an M'Balax band but at the same time, it was like a homecoming for me. We shared the same philosophy of music as weird as it may sound! Just like my own band 'Piirpauke', 'Etoile de Dakar' built their music on their own tradition while using many other elements and influences. Unfortunately, it wasn't a very popular strategy in Finland during those days.
I recorded most of the gigs we ever made and as soon as I let Hasse Walli (The guitar player of Piirpauke) hear the tapes, he decided to follow my footprints. He even learned the Wolof language and brought several African musicians with different line-ups of Asamaan to Finland and as a result of that, we have many of the top musicians of Senegal living in our country nowadays. Most of them came from dynasties that are already known as 'court musicians' or the ancient kingdom of Mali (1200-1600 AD).
So I have decided to bring these masters together in order to create new and groovy versions of the ancient Finnish dance music.
That is how the "HUM'BALAX" was born..
Current Band Members:
- Sakari Kukko - woodwinds, piano, keyboards, & vocals
- Meissa Niang - vocals & shakers
- Sheila Surban - vocals, shakers
- Ismaila Sane - percussions, vocals
- Eerik Siikasaari - bass
- Nicholas Rehn - guitar
- Ousseynou Mbaye - drums