Mamadou Kelly – Politiki (Clermont Music CLE 016CD, 2017)
Superb Malian guitarist Mamadou Kelly skillfully combines Saharan desert blues with American blues on Politiki.
In addition to his regular band, BanKaiNa, Mamadou Kelly invited American musicians such as award-winning steel guitar master Cindy Cashdollar, Susie Ibarra on drums, Jake Silver on bass, and Dan Littleton on guitars.
Politiki is a remarkable combination of West African and American blues genres featuring outstanding guitar work.
Malian blues act Mamadou Kelly and Ban Kai Na ran into problems last week during their American tour when the one string of their njarka snapped and they needed to find a replacement. The njarka is a small, one-stringed fiddle, made from a gourd and stringed with the tail-hair of a horse.
Fortunately, the band’s manager Christopher Nolan contacted a Hudson Valley neighbor who has a horse farm. A visit was arranged, and Maggie the Pony donated tail hairs to Brehima “Youro” Cisse, the band’s njarka master.
One of Mali’s greatest guitarists, Mamadou Kelly, will be touring North America in July and August with his band Ban Kai Na. A guitar prodigy from Niafunke in the heartland of Mali’s Niger River Delta, Mamadou accompanied well-known acts like Ali Farka Toure and Afel Boucum.
Ban Kai Na includes musicians from both Ali Farka Toure’s and Afel Boucom’s bands. Calabash player “Hama” Sankare can be heard on many of Ali Farka Toure’s classic albums, from 1994’s Talking Timbuktu all the up to 2006’s Savane; and Brehima ”Youro” Cisse’s jurkel (a one-string “mandolin”) can be heard together with Mamadou himself on Savane. They also make up Alkibar, the band that accompanies Afel Bocoum. This core of veterans also includes gifted Baba Traore on bass and Ibrahim Nabo on guitar.
On this tour, Mamadou Kelly and Ban Kai Na are scheduled to perform or record with such diverse acts as reggae artists Soul Syndicate, slide guitar master Cindy Cashdollar, indie rockers Last Good Tooth and jazz keyboardist John Medeski, among others.
July 6 Cooperage, Albuquerque NM
July 7 Bandstand, Santa Fe NM
July 8 Folk Art Market, Santa Fe NM
July 9 Folk Art Market, Santa Fe NM
July 10 Folk Art Market, Santa Fe NM
July 13 The Echo, DubClub, Los Angeles CA
July 15 Basement, Nashville TN
July 16 Mothlight, Asheville NC
July 20 Falcon, Marlboro NY
July 22 Music Hall, Portsmouth NH
July 23 Freedom Sq, Troy NY
July 27 Joe’s Pub, Manhattan NY
July 29 BSP, Kingston NY
Aug 5 Kennedy Center, Washington DC
Aug 6 Balliceaux, Richmond VA
Aug 7 Bossa Bistro, Washington DC
Aug 10 Union Pool, Brooklyn NY
Aug 12 Half Moon, Hudson NY
left-to-right: Brehima Cisse, Mamadou Kelly, Baba Traore – Photo by Paul Chandler
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