Tag Archives: kora

Melodic Kora Designs

Kane Mathis – Counterpoints

Kane Mathis – Counterpoints (2017)

American composer and multi-instrumentalist Kane Mathis has been a student and player of the West African kora for many years. On Counterpoints he delivers a set of 6 musical pieces played on a Mandinka Magic kora, crafted by luthier Jeffrey Bodony.

Counterpoints includes 4 traditional Mandinka melodies along with two original compositions, “Mamaandi” and “Sila Mesengo” by Mathis.

Counterpoints is a remarkable collection of solo pieces on the 21-string West African harp known as kora.

The album is available from kanemathis.bandcamp.com

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Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal Announce Fall 2017 West Coast Tour

Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal

Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal will be touring the West coast of the United States this fall.

Malian kora maestro Ballaké Sissoko and French cellist Vincent Segal released the acclaimed album Chamber Music in 2011. The duo released a second recording titled Musique du Nuit in 2015.

Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Segal Fall U.S. Tour Dates:

10/22: Plestcheef Auditorium at Seattle Museum of Art, Seattle, WA
10/24: The Old Church, Portland, OR
10/26: Freight and Salvage, Berkeley, CA
10/27: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre – Monday, Davis, CA
10/28: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre – Monday, Davis, CA
10/30: Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz, CA
11/1: Temple of Israel, Los Angeles, CA
11/2: Museum of Making Music, Carlsbad, CA
11/3: MIM Music Theater, Phoenix, AZ

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Artist Profiles: Kane Mathis

Kane Mathis

Kane Mathis has been making annual trips to The Gambia, West Africa to study the 21-string harp called Kora played by the bards of the Mandinka people. Kane’s teacher is Jeli Ba Malamini Jobarteh who is one of the living legends of the Kora. Recognizing Kane’s seriousness with Kora, Jeli Ba Malamini Jobarteh gave Kane a regimen of Kora training never before undertaken by a non-African.

In addition to his learning with Malamini Jobarteh Kane has studied African music extensively over the past ten years. Kane’s present goal with Kora is to remain with the Mandinka musical tradition and along with the many other players and scholars of this music bring it to further recognition around the world.

Discography:

Songs from the Cedar House

Counterpoints (Nyatoo Music, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Ba Cissoko

Ba Cissoko

Ba Cissoko is a talented Guinean multi-instrumentalists and vocalist. He’s a jeli (also known as griot), part of a long line of master musicians. He learned traditional Mandinka music from M’ Bady Kouyaté.

Although he’s a kora (West African harp) master, Ba Cissoko also plays ngoni, guitar and percussion. His band regularly features a second kora player, creating fascinating interplay.

Ba Cissoko’s sound is a mix of electric Mandinka music and traditional influences. Ba Cissoko incorporates rock, reggae and pop into his sound. The kora is played traditional style and electrified as well.

 

Ba Cissoko

 

His first major international appearance was in 1995 in Marseilles at the Festival Nuits Métis. In 1999 he formed his band.

 

 

Discography:

Sabolan (2002)
Electric Griot Land (2006)
Séno (2009)
Nimissa (Cristal Records, 2012)
Djeli (Cristal Records, 2016)

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Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal to perform at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro

Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal

 

Malian kora maestro Ballaké Sissoko and French cello virtuoso Vincent Segal are set to perform on Tuesday February 28 at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina.

The two musicians have developed a distinctive hybrid musical style that mixes traditional West African and European Baroque music.

The duo released a remarkable debut album titled Chamber Music, released in North America in 2011. Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal continued the collaboration in 2015 with Musique du Nuit.

 

 

Tuesday February 28 at 8 PM
The ArtsCenter, 300-G E. Main Street, Carrboro, NC.

Tickets for this show are $22. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit artscenterlive.org or call the Box Office at (919) 929-2787.

Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal will start their North American tour tomorrow. Tour dates:

Feb. 23, Berea College, Berea KY
Feb. 24, University of VT, Burlington VT
Feb. 25, Palais Montcalm, Quebec
Feb. 26, Le Gesu, Montreal
Feb. 28, The Arts Center, Carrboro NC
March 1, The Barns at Wolftrap Vienna
March 3, French Institute Alliance, New York NY
March 4, Villa Victoria, Boston, MA
March 5, North Beach Band Shell, Miami Beach
March 8, Old Town School of Folk, Chicago IL
March 9, Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis MN

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Where World Music Intersects World Jazz

Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita – Transparent Water (Ota Records, 2017)

Music fans should settle in and enjoy the sumptuous ride that is Transparent Water. Co-creator Omar Sosa, the Cuban-born composer, bandleader and pianist, has such recordings as Eggun – The Afri-Lectric Experience, Jog, Ile and Calma under his belt, while Seckou Keita, the Senegalese kora master, has released albums like 22 Strings/Cordes, Afro-Mandinka Soul with his own Seckou Keita Quartet and Clychau Dibon. Joining forces under the Ota Records label, Transparent Water, set for release on February 24th, pairs Mr. Sosa’s Afro-Cuban and jazz sensibilities with the lush African traditions of Mr. Keita’s long musical legacy of his griot family.

Transparent Water is where world music meets world jazz, where tradition meets improvisation and where the lines of spiritual and earthy meet. The result is stunningly evocative.

With Mr. Sosa on piano, Fender Rhodes, sampling, microKorg and vocals and Mr. Keita firmly enticing listeners with his kora mastery, as well as talking drum, djembe, sabar and vocals, listeners are treated to the interplay between these two musicians and composers. But as luck would have it, Mr. Sosa and Mr. Keita turn the music on its ears with the additions of Chinese musician Wu Tong on sheng and bawu; Japanese koto master Mieko Miyazaki; Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles on bata drums, culo’puya, maracas, guataca, calabaza and clave; Korean geojungo player E’Joung-Ju; and Rajasthani nagadi player Mosin Khan Kawa.

Cuban rhythms, African melodies and Asian influences pile up, separate and mesh together in an expansive musical tapestry where it’s impossible to pull at one musical thread and undo the lot.

Like water, Transparent Water flows easy from the jazzy opening track “Dary” into the delicately piano and kora interplay of “In the Forest.” Lush track flows into lush track with goodies like the sheng laced “Black Dream,” the catchy African influenced “Mining-Nah” with Mr. Keita’s vocals warming up the track and mysteriously moody “Another Prayer.”

Listeners can’t help but be charmed by tracks like sassy offering “Fatiliku,” the dreamy musical landscape of “Oni Yalorde” with Mr. Tong on the bawu or the piano lines of “Zululand.” Transparent Water is one of those recordings that requires listeners stop and really listen and it’s best if you just go with its flow.

Mr. Sosa, Mr. Keita and company have conjured up a truly brilliant collaboration on Transparent Water. Mesmerizing, evocative and sophisticated, Transparent Water begs for a listen.

Buy Transparent Water in the Americas

Buy Transparent Water in Europe

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Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal Announce 2017 North American Tour

Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal will return to North American stages in 2017, with their first tour on this side of the Atlantic since 2011. Malian kora master Ballaké Sissoko and French cellist Vincent Segal charmed critics and fans alike with their splendid debut Chamber Music, released in North America in 2011.

Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Segal – Chamber Music

The duo followed this success up with 2015’s Musique du Nuit that intensified the kora with cello hybrid sound.

Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal – Musique De Nuit

Ballaké and Vincent will begin the first part of their 2017 North American tour with stops in eleven cities in February and March, including Quebec, Montreal, New York City, Chicago, Miami, and more.

The duo will return for a second leg of touring in autumn 2017, with more dates to be announced.

Watch Ballaké and Vincent on Youtube

Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal 2017 Tour Dates:

Feb. 23, Berea College, Berea KY
Feb. 24, University of VT, Burlington VT
Feb. 25, Palais Montcalm, Quebec
Feb. 26, Le Gesu, Montreal
Feb. 28, The Arts Center, Carrboro NC
March 1 The Barns at Wolftrap, Vienna VA
March 3 French Institute Alliance New York NY
March 4 Villa Victoria, Boston, MA
March 5, North Beach Band Shell, Miami Beach
March 8, Old Town School of Folk, Chicago IL
March 9, Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis MN

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Artist Profiles: Ousseynou Kouyate

Ousseynou Kouyate was a member of the National Ballet of Senegal for seven years before moving to Berkeley with his twin brother Assane and starting their colorful music/dance band Djialy Kunda Kouyate (now known as Sekhou Senegal), using such indigenous instruments as the kora and balafon.

Kouyate is a descendant of griots who carries on age-old traditions. He has performed in various world music collaborations at Ashkenaz music club with such musicians as fellow African star Solo Cissokho and Cajun/zydeco fiddler Tom Rigney.

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Kora Delight

Dawda Jobarteh – Transitional Times (Sterns Music, 2016)

All too often kora music evokes the image of lacy traditional African tunes that fall into the elegant or quaint category, but Gambian kora player and composer Dawda Jobarteh firmly pulls out the rug under that notion on his second release on the Sterns Music label entitled Transitional Times, following up on his 2011 release of Northern Light Gambian Night.

Continuing the esteemed Gambian musical tradition of his grandfather Alhaji Bai Konte and father Amadou Basang, Mr. Jobarteh has stepped up and out to conjure up a first class recording by way of Transitional Times by incorporating his traditional roots to mold and bend the boundaries of the kora.

Often sleek and sophisticated, Mr. Jobarteh’s compositions and kora work dip into subtle jazz sensibilities or the sharp edges found in expressive jams that leave the listener breathless, but still returns and immerses music fans into that wonderful kaleidoscope of lacy notes of traditional kora, a pleasing diversion for both old and new fans.

Opening with the solo kora track “Winter Trees Stand Sleeping,” Mr. Jobarteh dazzles listeners with this artful, neat composition. But Transitional Times doesn’t waste any time before turning the mood with the stylishly expressive “Our Time in Tanjeh” with fellow musicians Preben Carlsen on guitar and Salieu Dibba on percussion.

The recording just gets better with the addition of the sadly soulful “Efo” with Mr. Jobarteh on kora, electric kora, vocals and tama drum backed by Mr. Carlsen on acoustic guitar, Nana Osibio on bass and Niclas Campagnol on drums. Transitional Times throws in the infectiously pleasing traditional tune “Kaira,” arranged by Mr. Jobarteh.

 

 

Wonderful things happen on the John Coltrane composition “Transition” as Mr. Jobarteh is joined by Etienne M’Bappe on bass, Jakob Dinesen on saxophone and Mr. Campagnol on drums. Equally wonderful sounds are evoked in a track about the perils of discrimination called “All One,” where joined by Alain Perez on bass, Mr. Campagnol on drums and Mr. Dibba on percussion, Mr. Jobarteh’s composition and vocals come out as almost a hymn like prayer surrounded by subtle jazz edges.

“Jamming in the Fifth Dimension” is explosively keen edged with just electric kora and percussion. Add into the mix the sweetly jazzy “Lullaby Med Jullie” with vocals provided by Julie Hjetland Jensen and Transitional Times is everything its title promises to be.

Mr. Jobarteh continues to dazzle with rich tracks like the traditional “Mama Sawo,” the percussive wonder “Kanoo” and the graceful tracks “Presenting the King” and “Dalua.”

Listening to Transitional Times find its depth of vision by way of Mr. Jobarteh’s willingness to step into other genres and across traditional paths is a delight. Transitional Times is one of those must have kora CDs.

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Artist Profiles: Ba Cissoko

Ba Cissoko
Ba Cissoko

Ba Cissoko is a master kora player. He belongs a long lineage of griots (jelis), master singers and musicians. His uncle M’Bady Kouyate transmitted his knowledge to Ba cissoko since he was a child. Since then, Ba Cissoko has renewed the kora while refining his knowledge of the art of storytelling.

His 2006 album, Electric Griot Land, is a nod to Jimi Hendrix’s vision, who adjusted his blues origins to his time. That’s Ba Cissoko’s musical process, who was just born when the guitarist was starting on his revolution.

In 2009 he released Séno, another nod to Jimi Hendrix’s vision. By his side in 2010, his band included his two cousins, Kourou the elder on bass and bolon, and Sékou, the young prodigy who transforms the kora with saturated effects, and Dartagnan (percussion) and Abdoulaye Kouyaté (guitar). ”To modernize the Manding tradition to better spread it; to transgress it, to really honor it,” says Ba Cissoko.

Discography;

Sabolan (2005)
Electric Griot Land (2007)
Séno (2009)
Nimissa (2012)
Djeli (2016)

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