Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: Segu Blue (Out Here/Elite)

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Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: The River Tune
Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: Segu Blue (Out Here/Elite)

The death in March 2006 of the great Mali musician Ali Farka Toure -- who reached a global audience in the mid 90s with the Talking Timbuktu album recorded with Ry Cooder -- lead to many tributes but also the question, who could possibly take his place?

Well, his son Vieux Farka Toure's album -- which appeared in the Best of Elsewhere 2007 list, see tag -- certainly suggested all was not lost for the hypnotic music from that region . . . and this album, the first under his own name by one who worked with Ali Farka frequently, indicates that here too the legacy is being held high.

Kouyate plays the ngoni which is a kind of lute but with more depth and resonance, and the band here Ngoni ba are a quartet who play ngoni of various sizes.

With Kouyate's wife Ami Sacko on vocals (and various guests and percussionists) this is an exceptional album -- and the lament for Ali Farka is aching.

Five stars in the Independent, four in Mojo, praise such as "a compellingly beautiful and timeless record" (Uncut), "fabulously resonant, hypnotic music" (Daily Telegraph) and "a gem" (Evening Standard) might also hint that this is something special.

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