Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba
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Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba

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Music

Press



- The Guardian (UK)


"The whole band kicked in, Bassekou grinning with delight as they fired out unexpectedly grungey blues. A talking drum flitted over the top, while the floorbound vocalists swayed their arms in time to the music. It was the start of an extraordinary set that seemed to run from hard rock to jazz flicks to dub reggae, at times trancelike, at times heavy, at times delicate, but all carried off with astonishing virtuosity on these traditional instruments. Like the best of Africa's music, it was powerful and contemporary while remaining recognisably in touch with its roots."
- THE INDEPENDENT (UK)


(the headline of the piece)
"there was magic in the concert of the Malian musician Bassekou Kouyate. The packed audience in the auditorium Parque Torres (Mar de Musicas) was completely amazed by a performance in which the main instrument is a small traditional wooden guitar...
Kouyate won over the audience... with a dynamic stage presence that exploded with glorious combinations of the ngoni."
- Jose Manuel Gomez, El Mundo, 16 July 2007


" the combination of ngonis, calabash and tama percussion, and voices, is stratopheric, no one can resist it, not even Orpheus..." Mingus Formentor, 20 July 2007
- La Vanguardia


Discography

Segu Blue - 2007

Photos

Bio

WINNER - Album of the Year 2008
WINNER - Africa
BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music

WINNER of TAMANI D'OR
for Best Video 2007 for Ngoni Fola

Nominated for Best Newcomer
BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music

Bassekou Kouyate is one of the true masters of the ngoni, an ancient traditional lute found throughout West Africa. The sensational album ‘Segu Blue’ which was released in Europe in the spring of 2007 is his first solo album and features the first and only ngoni quartet.

Over the years Bassekou has collaborated with many musicians from his homeland Mali and
internationally. Bassekou was one of the key musicians on Ali Farka Toure’s posthumous album ‘Savane’ which was released July 2006 having previously toured with Ali Farka Toure, stunning audiences worldwide as the band’s solo ngoni player. He has played in the Symmetric trio alongside Toumani Diabate (kora) and Keletigui Diabate (balafon), was also a part of Taj Mahal’s and Toumani Diabate’s ‘Kulanjan’ project and features prominently on Youssou N’Dour’s latest album ‘Rokku mi Rokka’ and Dee Dee Bridgwater’s ‘Red Earth’

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’. In 1996 Bassekou married the singer Amy Sacko (the so-called “Tina Turner of Mali”) and they have been in high demand for the traditional wedding parties that happen in the streets of Bamako.

After many years being a ‘sideman’ to many musicians both in Mali and globally, Bassekou has now put together his own band, Ngoni ba (meaning “the big ngoni”), Mali’s first ngoni quartet. The ngoni is one of Africa’s secrets still to be discovered. It is the key instrument for the griot culture. Unlike the kora whose history goes back only a few hundred years, the ngoni has been the main instrument in griot storytelling going back to the 13th century during the days of Soundiata Keita, the founder of the Mali Empire. The repertoire Bassekou plays is Bambara music from the region of Segu. Bambara music is pentatonic in nature and as close to the
blues as you can get in Africa. As Taj Mahal puts it “…Bassekou is a genius, a living proof that
the blues comes from the region of Segu.”

The songs on ‘Segu Blue’ tell the story of one of the last pre-colonial Malian empires: the Bambara Empire of Segu founded by Bitòn Mamary Coulibaly in 1712. The CD’s 20-page booklet draws up a vivid picture of Malian social life before the colonial powers subdued the last local empires.
‘Segu Blue’ features guest musicians Kasse Mady Diabate, Lobi Traore, Lassana Diabate
(incidentally, there is no Kora or djembe on this album) and singers Zoumana Tereta and Bassekou’s wife, Amy Sacko. The album is produced by Lucy Durán, recorded at studio Bogolan in Bamako by Yves Wernert and mixed in London by Jerry Boys (the man responsible for recording and mixing ‘Buena Vista Social Club’ amongst others).

Following the critically acclaimed release of the album earlier in the year, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba featuring the beautiful and emotive voice of Amy Sacko, embarked on their debut tour in the summer of 2007. They wowed audiences across Europe at major festivals and venues on their amazing debut tour. This was followed up by another European tour in November which included more intimate venues, allowing for longer and even more dynamic performances. On stage the music takes on a life of it’s on with high energy music,
dance routines and power that would compare to any rock band! This group is fresh, funky but rooted in a traditional style.

"In the five year history of the festival and of some 200 groups, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba are number one!"
Yusuf Mahmoud - Festival Director, Sauti zu Busara Festival (Zanzibar)

"...one of the year's sensational new arrivals."
*****The Independent (UK)

"...dynamic stage presence that exploded with glorious combinations of the ngoni."
El Mundo (Spain)

"Both ancient and utterly contemporary .... like some African answer to Hendrix."
The Guardian (UK)

"Bassekou was the best artist of our festival... definitely"
Rob Lokin - Festival Director, AfrikaFestival, Hertme (Holland)