Above all, I remember one of the very last conversations I had with this tall, good-natured gentleman who was the friend of everyone who approached him, as long as the conversation revolved around his great passion: musical instruments. wind.


Master Barry performed regularly, in the evening, in the cozy atmosphere of a setting set up in Kipé Dadiah by big brother Justin Morel Junior (JMS). One day, he confided to me, during an interlude, his fear of seeing the dynasty of great Guinean saxophonists disappear, for lack of candidates for training…
Twenty years earlier (in 2003), at the Franco-Guinean Cultural Center (now Espace Sory Kandia Kouyaté), all jazz enthusiasts were able to attend the symbolic passing of the baton between the former conductor of the Kaloum Star and his illustrious elder, the inimitable Momo Wandel Soumah, an icon that the whole African continent mourns. Again…

That night, the former boss of African Groove had given new life to the orphan saxophone of “Papa Momo Wandel” (who died a few days earlier), in front of an admiring audience and above all relieved to see that the Guinean heritage was preserved.


I must admit that I often moved discreetly from one place to another, in Conakry or elsewhere, to listen to the sounds (imitated or created) by Master Barry, at ease as well on the clarinet, the trumpet, on the flute and of course by playing the instrument that has made him famous all over the world: the saxophone. What talent !


Whenever the musician detected my presence somewhere, he always had that wink, that thumbs up and sometimes moved to exchange with me, the fan of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, a few very kind words.


In this exceptional musician, I have always admired the humor, the passion, the creativity and the sense of improvisation. He is one of those who have enhanced African music by wearing their country’s colors high, in all the festivals organized around the world – sometimes carried in triumph by an admiring public at the end of a successful performance!


He is, unfortunately, one of those who have suffered in silence from the lack of consideration of Guinean musicians at home, while they are extolled in other skies.


In this regard, an anecdote comes to mind. One day, I was walking around an African capital at night when a long queue caught my eye. Information taken, it was the Bembeya Jazz which occurred in a large hotel complex…


A few weeks earlier, in Conakry, the performance of Sékou Bembeya (one of the pillars of Bembeya Jazz) was heckled at the people’s palace by part of the public, visibly accustomed to consuming anything, under the flabbergasted gaze of those who boundless respect to this incredible guitarist. “If the others have Carlos Santana, Guinea and Africa have Sékou Bembeya! fumed someone in the audience, angry at the troublemakers.


I cannot put an end to this tribute without offering my most saddened condolences to his family, his relatives and some of his friends that I know: JMS, Tabassy Baro, Jean Baptiste Williams, and so on. I am aware that you are going through a difficult ordeal but I hope that you will find consolation, not by thinking of the void left by Master Barry, but of the undeniable impact he had on Guinean, African and world music. His memory will remain etched in our hearts. For ever…


Saliou Samb