Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: Jama ko (Out Here/Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

Bassekou Kouyate and Taj Mahal: Poye 2
Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: Jama ko (Out Here/Southbound)

It has been five years since this superb ngoni player (a lute/banjo-like instrument) from Mali delivered his beautiful Segu Blue album. Formerly a member of the late Ali Farka Toure's inner circle, Kouyate has continued to deliver beguiling albums in recent years, but few were made under circumstances as tough as those for this one.

On their first day in the studio in Bamako, Mali's capital, there was a military coup and the democratically elected president was tossed out.

Politics was heavy in the air as in the north the Islamic rebels were also marching south and, imposing sharia law, were banning the playing of music, smashing instruments and harrassing musicians. Inevitably this volatile mood influenced the music Kouyate was making (with his new band which included his two sons) and so we get Ne me fatigue pas, a stuttering and angry piece which is a rolling boil of energetic percussion, naggingly melodic ngoni lines run through wah-wah and a real sense of urgency: don't wear me down.

The more considered title track which opens the album is a gentle plea for peace (and Mali's reputation for tolerance in the Islamic world) amidst the chaos.

As always there is hypnotioc ngoni playin here -- four players on different ngoni -- and Poye 2 is a low blues jam between the band and Taj Mahal on electric guitar and John Lee Hooker-styke vocals. Its  something else.

This is an exceptional album which crackles with fist-clenching energy as much as it touches the heart.

One of the best acts at Womad. 

For more on Womad 2013 artists at Elsewhere see here.



Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

Mucca Pazza: Safety Fifth (muccapazza.com)

Mucca Pazza: Safety Fifth (muccapazza.com)

What with the funky lineage out of New Orleans, the woozy sound of the late Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy and the likes of the free-wheeling Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, the ground has been well... > Read more

Etran Finatawa: Introducing Etran Finatawa (World Music Network) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

Etran Finatawa: Introducing Etran Finatawa (World Music Network) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

From the same emotional source and geographical location -- the sub-Sahara around Niger -- as the thrilling and now well-known Tinariwen comes this equally extraordinary band. Their mesmerising... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

LED ZEPPELIN MASTERS (2017): The songs better remain the same

LED ZEPPELIN MASTERS (2017): The songs better remain the same

Elsewhere has made no secret of its sneaking admiration for tribute shows. The audience's expectation of authenticity and commitment has driven most of the lesser players out of the market... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Phil Broadhurst

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Phil Broadhurst

So, where to begin with acclaimed pianist/composer and teacher Phil Broadhurst who was awarded the MNZM back in 2001 for his services to jazz? We could mention his study at Berklee then four... > Read more