Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba
Bassekou Kouyate is a true master of the ngoni, a traditional lute found across West Africa. Descended from a long line of griots on both sides of his family, Bassekou's virtuosic skills, coupled with his creative sense of innovation, have put him in great demand both for his work with his own ensemble Ngoni Ba, but also in collaborative practices with the likes of Youssou N'Dour, Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabate, Bela Fleck, The Kronos Quartet, Taj Mahal, Damon Albarn, and Michael League, among others.
Bassekou rejoices in an unusual band formation, featuring 3 ngoni players, 2 percussionists, and his wife Amy Sacko taking the lead on vocals. They have performed around the world at festivals such as Roskilde, WOMAD, Glastonbury, Fuji Rock, and North Sea Jazz, among others.
The recorded body of work began with the classic album Segu Blue, released in 2007 on Outhere Records. Produced by ethnomusicologist Lucy Durán, the release was lauded not only for its brilliant musicianship but also as a portrait of the last years of the Malian Empire before European colonizing took hold.
His second release, I Speak Fula, continued to garner him international attention, with Banning Eyre (NPR) commenting: "Kouyate calls this CD I Speak Fula, but Fula is not his language. And thats the point. Timbres, tongues and rhythms from the desert nomads of the Malian north to the savanna hunters in the south pervade these tracks. This is Kouyate's personal vision of his own, rich, multicultural nation, and it feels as fresh and imaginative as it does authentic."
Bassekou's most recent release is Miri, an album about love, friendship, family and true values in times of crisis. Miri means dream or contemplation in Bamana. For this album Bassekou travels back to his hometown Garana, a small village on the banks of the Niger river. The instrumental song Miri captures the feeling of Bassekou sitting on the banks of the Niger River, far away from the noise, traffic jams and political turmoil of Bamako. He contemplates life, and this striking and very personal album is the result..
As Time Out has said of Bassekou's playing:
"Ngoni virtuoso Bassekou Kouyate can make notes bend like the sun's rays in the desert heat".
North American Booking: Alison Loerke