Mandinka is a contemporary world music project spearheaded by Malian guitarist Mamadou Doumbia (b. 12 January 1965, Kulikoro, West Mali). Prior to forming Mandinka, Doumbia had been a member of the legendary Rail Band, a group that served as an academy for such aspiring musicians as Mory Kanté and Salif Keita. Like so many West African guitarists, Doumbia soon found himself relocating to Paris, France, at which time he joined Kasse Mady’s Band. He was also guitarist and musical director for his cousin, Nahawa Doumbia, and worked regularly with other groups led by Sory Bamaba. He eventually joined Salif Keita’s group as lead guitarist in 1988. Touring America in 1990 with Keita, he played alongside long-time hero Carlos Santana in Los Angeles, before he settled in Tokyo, Japan, after the Asian leg of the same tour. There he performed traditional acoustic sets with Guinean percussionist Lamine Youl Diabate. He also performed solo, playing kora and ngoni (banjo) as well as guitar. His acoustic album, Mandinka Acoustic-Sobe, was released in Japan in July 1994. He had formed the group Mandinka in September 1993, with the intention of blending his own electric guitar skills with a full band comprising percussion, drums, horns and keyboards. Regular members of that band include a mix of African and Japanese musicians - Sakurai Yoshiki (guitar), Kaseda Masato (bass), Karasawa Toshiyuki (trumpet), Sugiyama Ryota (tenor saxophone), Kosmas Kapitza (percussion), Matsuda Nobuo (keyboards) and Marty Bracey (drums). An infectious blend of rhythm and harmony, Mandinka soon became one of Tokyo’s most popular live attractions. The full group’s debut album followed in 1996, Independence, justifiably receiving worldwide distribution through JVC Sounds.