Nuru Kane
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Nuru Kane

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


One of problems world music artists suffer is some preciousness in their audience which would preserve them in amber like an anthropological specimen. They want an artist to remain true to some perception of “authentic”.

But musicians, being the troublesome creatures they are, largely ignore such constraints and move on, assimilating influences, and extending the boundaries of their style.

The great Senegalese singer/guitarist Nuru Kane – who also plays the three-string guimbri, like an acoustic bass guitar – has never been within the grip of those who put him a specimen jar.

His terrific debut album Sigil of 2006 (recorded in Scotland!) had The Observer's Phil Meadley noting the melange of music was “trance-like gnawa meets Senegalese soul, meets Malian blues, meets Fela Kuti, with a touch of Bob Marley”.

Here at Elsewhere I observed that in the solo songs he sounded like a Mississippi bluesman.

Kane – born Papa Nouroudine Kane in Dakar but these days living in France – has spent time in Morocco and been influenced by gnawa music, but is something a world citizen with very open ears.

Cover-1_1His most recent album Exile on Riverboat (through Southbound in New Zealand) is yet another shapeshifter again.

With guimbri, kora, guitars, calabash, ngoni, balafon and other instruments at his disposal within his band (and singers of course) he traverses a lot of ground and again slips free of the grasp of those who would pigeonhole him.

The extraordinary opener Afrika is an intricate tapestry of crisscross melodies from guitar, giumbri and balafon behind and between his vocals which almost hint at rap for a moment.

Perhaps because he lives in Europe now he also effortlessly assimilates in other sounds and styles, as on Corriendo which has Spanish influences, and the melodic spirits of North African are all over the title track and Sadye.

The reggae song Issoire is pretty ordinary but the real surprise from a man who is full of them is the soul-pop of Yes We Kane who refers to the old Lee Dorsey/Pointer Sisters hit Yes We Can, which was an Obama campaign song.

He's even got a bouncy pop song here in Bambala.

Nuru Kane's first band was an Afrobeat outfit and he had his ears on Fela Kuti and Bob Marley.

These days it is getting harder an harder to either pinpoint his sound or where he might be headed but whether his lyrics be personal or political, he marries them to music which is vibrant, tricky and inclusive.

Then of course is that strong and supple voice . . .

Preserved on record but never in a specimen jar
- website Elsewhere, Graham Reid


Sénégalais globe-trotter, artiste discret et très attaché au sens qu’il donne à sa démarche au-delà de la musique, Nuru Kane sort son troisième album baptisé Exile dans lequel il met encore davantage en pratique le rapprochement des cultures sans aucune aliénation.
Le mode de vie sédentaire n’est pas fait pour Nuru Kane. Le chanteur sénégalais, arrivé en France en 1998, est plutôt un adepte de l’incessante vadrouille. Il était ici, à Londres ; on l’a vu là, en Auvergne ; il passera là-bas, aux Pays-Bas... Cette itinérance est moins dans ses gênes que dans sa tête : au fond, il n’est question que de liberté, et de la façon dont le chanteur trentenaire entend la vivre.

Que son troisième CD s’intitule Exile n’est pas seulement une référence à cette situation vécue par tant d’Africains poussés à partir loin de chez eux pour des raisons économiques, même si les violons joués sur la chanson-titre dégagent un parfum de nostalgie. Nuru Kane donne à ce concept un contenu plus politique, pensant à ces grands hommes qui ont défendu des causes et ont été contraints de se couper des leurs. Et de citer le Dalaï Lama, Cheikh Amadou Bamba, ou même Nelson Mandela.
L’exil, enfin, se trouve parfois en fermant les yeux au détour d’une chanson. Pour faire naître ce "monde en couleurs", Nuru pratique sans retenue le mélange des cultures. Son groupe Bayefall Gnawa en est l’un des reflets : ses membres viennent du Maroc, du Mali, d’Algérie, de France…
Le patchwork se décline aussi en onze titres, composés pour une bonne moitié par son complice de longue date, Thierry Fournel. Bambala prend la direction de l’Afrique du Nord des Gnawa : le guembri – instrument fétiche du Sénégalais –pose le cadre, dessine ses motifs et petit à petit accélère la cadence que suivent les voix, les battements de main et les karkabou. Ambiance plus blues pour Niang Balo. Direction l’Espagne avec Coriendo et ses sonorités festives. Issoire, en hommage à cette ville où il est officiellement domicilié, est un reggae parfaitement exécuté comme Nuru en jouait à ses débuts dans son pays natal.
Lui qui appelle son continent à l’unité dans Afrika a su justement transcender les différences entre tous ces genres musicaux qui l’influencent pour donner à l’ensemble une cohérence, une identité. A l’instinct, sans calcul, et avec la volonté de montrer l’exemple, il prouve que changer les choses reste possible. Son message se résume en une chanson, où son patronyme se mêle au slogan du candidat Obama : Yes We Kane.
- RFI Musique




Along with the dry, rasping sound of the guimbri (a three-stringed lute) that's always been his trademark instrument, it's this London-based Senegalese singer-songwriter's urgent frayed voice that gives this eclectic set cohesion.

His previous albums have been energetic but rough around the edges. Here musical ideas (embracing everything from gnawa to reggae) have been better followed through, resulting in his most accessible effort to date.
- The Independant


Discography

LP's :

Sigil, Riverboat records, World music network, 2006.

Number One Bus, 3D Family, All other, 2009

Exile, Riverboat records, World music Network, 2013

Photos

Bio


Born in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, Nuru Kane migrated in 1998 to Paris where his skills as a guitarist and singer put him in high demand both as a solo artist and as a guest for other ensembles.
However it was a trip to Morocco that exposed him to the music of the Gnawa and captivated Nuru to such an extent that it became the turning point in his musical career and has since come to define his unique sound.

Nuru left Morocco with the Guimbri (three stringed bass lute) and returned to Paris where he formed his own ensemble named ‘Bayefall Gnawa’, whose music reflects the meeting between North and West African musical styles.

In 2004 the ensemble was invited to perform at Mali’s legendary ‘Festival In The Desert’, and their impressive performance led to an invitation from the UK’s Riverboat Records to record an album.
Following the release of his debut CD ‘Sigil’ in the spring of 2006, Nuru Kane & Bayefall Gnawa took to the road with an extensive tour of the UK followed by dates in Holland, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, France and Morocco.

‘Sigil’ was released worldwide in the spring of 2006. It instantly won widespread praise in specialist music magazines, mainstream press, web review pages and amongst world DJ’s worldwide. Hailed by Rolling Stone.com as “ a masterpiece” the album was a “Top of the World” choice in Songlines and described as a “must have” by Amazon’s editors. SIGIL’s success was cemented when promoters, festival organisers, agents, record labels and venue managers from around the world attending the 2006 WOMEX expo in Seville nominated Nuru as “Best Newcomer” for the 2007 BBC 3 Awards for World Music.

Nuru establishes himself with "Number One Bus" (Iris Music / Harmonia Mundi), his second album which apparead in early 2010, as the next great African songwritter.

His New Album, Exile (four stars in the independant), released in february 2013, balances Nuru’s fun-loving nature with a darker, brooding mood not heard in some of his earlier work. Exile throws light and shade on Nuru’s unique worldview – on this album alone he covers topics as broad-ranging as religion, marriage, family, dictatorship and African liberation.

With Exile, Nuru’s bouncing Baye Fall Gnawa sound is set to reverberate around the globe once more. Get ready to hear him loud.

"Nuru Kane is almost Errol Flynn like_ like in his charismatic commend of a room. Full of confidence and sparkle but never overblown or gauche. His voice is wonderful, his songs intriguing... a star in the making"
Howard Male

“This is an original and beautifully crafted musical fusion of two very different cultures of Africa. A real treat for those who appreciate music that comes from the heart.”
Chino Odimba, BBC AFrica on Your Street