Malian ngoni star Bassekou Kouyate and his band Ngoni ba have a new album titled Miri, scheduled for release on January 25, 2019 on outhere records.
Miri is an album about affection, friendship, family and authentic values in times of crisis. Miri means dream or contemplation in bamana.
On Miri, Bassekou returns to his hometown, Garana, a small village at the banks of the Niger River. The instrumental song Miri captures that feeling.
sits at the banks of the Niger far away from the noise, traffic jams and
political mayhem of Bamako and thinks about life.
The international cast of guests includes Habib Koite, Afel Bocoum, Michael League, Dom Flemons, Abdoulaye Diabate, and Madera Limpia.
Bassekou Kouyate’s discography includes Segu Blue (Out Here Records, 2007), I Speak Fula (Out Here Records, 2009), Afrocubism (World Circuit Records, 2010), Jama Ko (Out Here Records, 2013) and Ba Power‘ (Glitterbeat Records, 2015)
Malian ngoni trailblazer Bassekou Kouyate has announced the release of a new album in 2019 titled ‘Miri’. The new recording, on Out Here Records, is scheduled for release on January 25, 2019.
Together with his band Ngoni Ba, Miri features his wife, vocalists Amy Sacko. Guests include Abdoulaye Diabate, Habib Koite and Afel Bocoum.
To celebrate the release of the new album, a series of UK dates has been booked, starting with the monumental Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow on January25, 2019, followed by London, Liverpool, Leeds and other locations.
The Rhythm Foundation, the arts presenter of world music and other forms of music in South Florida, has announced the artists scheduled to perform in the Fall-Winter 2018-19 Season.
Saturday, September 22nd
North Beach Bandshell
Juana Molina. Opening set by Afrobeta
Argentine indie-folk-electronic star in a rare Miami concert.
Friday, October 5th
North Beach Bandshell
Omar Souleyman. Opening set by Richie Hell. Co-Presented with MDC Live Arts
Syrian electronic artist on Diplo’s Mad Decent record label. Recently collaborated with Björk and Four Tet.
Saturday, October 6th
North Beach Bandshell
Annual Italian music HIT Week event showcasing this striking composer blending electronic experimental music with the classical tradition.
Free with RSVP
Thursday, October 18th
Pérez Art Museum Miami
A unique electronic artist making music at the intersection of Deep House, Afrofuturism, avant-jazz, EBM, and global soundscapes.
Friday, October 26th
Adrienne Arsht Center
African world music star with his band Super Étoile.
Friday, November 9th
Fillmore Miami Beach
Diego El Cigala
Spain’s superb and innovative Flamenco singer will performs intimately with piano as inspired by his past work with Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés,
Friday, December 7th
Emerson Dorsch Gallery
A group described as Talking Heads/David Bowie/B-52’s meets South Korean shamanic rock.
Free with RSVP
Friday, January 18th, 2019
African desert blues Tuareg artist from Niger on the Sahel Sounds record label.
Free with RSVP
Weekend, Feb. 8th – 10th, 2019
North Beach Bandshell
GroundUp Music Fest
Third annual festival presented by the GroundUp record label in partnership with The Rhythm Foundation.
Saturday, February 16th, 2019
North Beach Bandshell
The best-known living exponent of the Afro-Peruvian musical tradition introduced to international audiences in the late 1990s by David Byrne.
Saturday, March 16th, 2019
Little Haiti Cultural Center
Habib Koité & Bassekou Kouyaté
Two of Mali’s most renowned musicians come together for the U.S. premier tour of their new duo project.
Sunday, March 17th, 2019
South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts
Anoushka Shankar. Co-Presented with SMDCAC
Sitarist Anoushka Shankar is the daughter of Ravi Shankar and sister of Norah Jones. She is the torch-bearer of her family’s Indian classical tradition.
Bassekou Kouyate is one of the true masters of the ngoni, an ancient traditional lute found throughout West Africa, and he has collaborated with many musicians in and outside of Mali. He played in the Symmetric trio alongside Toumani Diabate (kora) and Keletigui Diabate (balafon). He was part of Taj Mahal’s and Toumani Diabate’s Kulanjan project, as well as being one of the key musicians on Ali Farka Toure’s posthumous album Savane which was released July 2006. He also toured with Ali Farka Toure before Toure passed away, leaving a lasting impression on the audience as the band’s solo ngoni player.
Bassekou was born in a village called Garana, almost 40 miles from Segu, in the remote countryside on the banks of the Niger River. He was raised in a traditional musical environment, his mother a praise singer and his father and brothers exceptional ngoni players.
Bassekou moved to Bamako when he was 19 years old where he met the young Toumani Diabate. By the late 1980s Bassekou was part of Toumani’s trio and they recorded their first albums together, Songhai and Djelika.
Bassekou married the singer Ami Sacko (the so-called ‘Tina Turner of Mali’) and they have been in high demand for the traditional Sunday wedding parties that happen in the streets of Bamako. Bassekou now has his own band, Ngoni ba (meaning ‘the big ngoni’), Mali’s first ngoni quartet.
The repertoire Bassekou plays is from the region of Segu, the heart of Bambara culture. Unlike Mandinka griot music, Bambara music is pentatonic in nature, a music as close to the blues as you can get in Africa.
His debut CD, Segu Blue (Out Here Records), features guest musicians Kasse Mady Diabate, Lobi Traore, Lassana Diabate and singers Zoumana Tereta and Bassekou’s wife, Ami Sacko. The album was produced by Lucy Duran, recorded at studio Bogolan in Bamako by Yves Wernert and mixed in London by Jerry Boys.
In 2009, Seattle-based indie rock label Sub Pop licensed Bassekou Kouyate’s second album I Speak Fula. The album was the first release on their newly founded sub label Next Ambiance, a collaboration between Sub Pop Records and Jon Kertzer, presenter of the ‘Best Ambiance’ show on Seattle-based public radio station KEXP. Sub Pop/Next Ambiance released I Speak Fula throughout North America, as well as Australia and New Zealand.
In 2010, World Circuit Records released Afrocubism, an album that brought together top musicians from Cuba and Mali. The album featured renowned Cuban singer and guitarist Eliades Ochoa, Bassekou Kouyate and the excellent Rail Band guitarist Djelimady Tounkara. Joining them were Eliades’ Grupo Patria, amongst Cuba’s longest running and most revered bands, kora maestro Toumani Diabaté, legendary Malian griot singer Kasse Mady Diabaté and the innovative balafon player Lassana Diabaté.
In March 2012 Bassekou Kouyate recorded his third album titled Jama ko in Mali’s capital Bamako. This coincided with the military coup that overthrew the Malian president Amadou Toumani Toure, a great supporter of Bassekou.
As expected, Bassekou was deeply affected by the rapidly changing events in his country. ”Jama ko means ‘great meeting of people’: You may be rich or poor, Muslim or Christian, let’s get together and enjoy ourselves,” said Bassekou. “There are 90% Muslims in Mali, but our form of Islam here has nothing to do with Sharia, that is not our culture. We have been singing praise songs for the prophet for hundreds of years. Mali is a free and peaceful country where you can be who you want to be.”
“Jama ko” was recorded live, with no overdubs, at studio Bogolan with a completely new band line-up including two of Bassekou’s sons, Madou and Moustapha Kouyate , and the ngoni maestro Abou Sissoko. It features a duet between Amy Sacko and Khaira Arby from Timbuktu calling for peace in Mali, Kassemady Diabate praising Sinali Diarra, a Bamana king famous for resisting forced Islamization in the 19th century, Zoumana Tereta praising the cotton farmers and the great ngoni masters who are no longer with us, Harouna Samake on kamale ngoni and an extraordinary jam with Taj Mahal singing and playing guitar backed by Mocky Salole on drums. The record was co-produced by Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire/ Hotel2Tango) from Montreal. It was released in January 2013 on outhere records.
Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba’s fourth album ‘Ba Power’ (Glitterbeat Records) is marked by the incorporation of rock-style distortion and wah wah and propulsive rhythms. The album was was produced in Mali by Chris Eckman (Tamikrest, Aziza Brahim) and it features significant guests: from Mali Samba Touré, Zoumana Tereta and Adama Yalomba; from the USA, seminal trumpet player Jon Hassell (Brian Eno, The Talking Heads, Bjork and Peter Gabriel) and rock guitarist Chris Brokaw (Lemonheads, Come, the Thurston Moore Band etc.); and from the UK, acclaimed drummer Dave Smith (Robert Plant’s Sensational Space Shifters, Fofoulah, JuJu).
Call me a traditionalist, call me a purist, call me a snob, call me a journalistic hack. (Okay, that last one is kind of beside the point.) But it’s a fact that since my musical tastes went global 30-plus years ago, I‘ve leaned heavily in favor of music that sticks closer to the roots. There may well be demographic reasons pertaining to my age, my race, my status or my upbringing that contribute to my preference, or maybe it’s just my concept of authenticity that guides me. Does that mean my choice of music has to sound as close to an Alan Lomax field recording as possible? Good heavens, no. Like most people, I simply have my own ideas, shared or not, about what it means to keep it real. And modernizing need not preclude reality in my worldview, even when it comes to my abiding love for African music. The pair of gents reviewed herein share not only a surname, but an apparent desire to expand their artistry without losing sight of it.
Mali’s Bassekou Kouyate is a wizard of the ngoni, a paddle-shaped traditional West African lute that comes in various sizes. It looks deceptively simple but in the right hands can unleash some mighty sounds. To say Kouyate’s band Ngoni Ba is all about the ngoni would be a misstatement, for although multiple lutes are the group’s mainstay, the songs on Ba Power (Glitter Beat, 2015) add amplified non-African instruments (guitar, drums, keyboards, trumpet). Despite the additions, it’s the wall of ngoni (with Kouyate’s own in the lead) that really grabs you.
Rockish paces on some tracks unleash the power the title promises, but as often as not the music is just as mighty at slower speeds thanks to the tart, twangy interplay of the small, medium and bass ngoni and the fact that they’re always prominent in the mix. Further power comes courtesy of Amy Sacko’s soaring vocals, the snap of the calabash (gourd drum) and the subtle application of electronic overtones here and there. Every song is a corker, but best of the lot is “Abe Sumaya,” on which Kouyate and his crew- Muslims all -assure us that the loathsome ideology of Islamist fundamentalism will never prevail in Mali.
Another Kouyate, namely Sekou Kouyate, hails from Guinea and plays the 21-stringed kora. He’s teamed with guitarist/vocalist Joe Driscoll (like me, a native upstate New Yorker) on Monistic Theory (Cumbancha, 2016). The two have been collaborators since 2010, and while matchups between African and Western musicians are nothing new, these gents have a particularly good spark. Kouyate’s fluid kora and airy vocals mesh with Driscoll’s snappy guitar and rap cadences minus any unnecessary interference from overproduction, commercial aspirations or canned beats.
The fairly minimal accompaniment of drums, bass and percussion provides a snug foundation for Driscoll and Kouyate’s bilingual discourses on love, unity and the power of music, and the mostly fast tempos inspire dancing to compliment the food for thought. What I really like about this disc is how unpretentious it feels. It gets to your heart rather than getting in your face, staying true to its titular theme of oneness and letting the music convey a positive message despite the troubles currently besetting mankind.
Bassekou Kouyaté and Ngoni Ba are set to perform on Thursday, July 30, 8:00 p.m. at Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Admission is free.
Malian musician Bassekou Kouyaté and Ngoni Ba is one of the leading world music acts. Accompanied by his wife, Amy Sacko, and his band, Ngoni Ba, the master of the ngoni (an ancient “spike lute” and ancestor of the banjo) Kouyaté combines traditional Malian folk music with propulsive rock rhythms, distortion effects, and wah pedal.