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

Various Artists: The Sound of Siam (Soundway)

Various Artists: The Sound of Siam (Soundway)

Increasingly the globe becomes a village -- and the local radio station is broadcasting oldies and archival stuff. Consider the recent excavating of music from Ethiopia, Nigeria,... > Read more

Badma Khanda Ensemble: Mongolian Music from Buryatia (Arc/Elite)

Badma Khanda Ensemble: Mongolian Music from Buryatia (Arc/Elite)

The European Arc label is doing God's work in this world by bringing to light music from Eastern Europe right across to the shores of the western Pacific. Already in its ever-expanding catalogue it... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

BADFINGER and HARRY NILSSON: Without them, no Without You

BADFINGER and HARRY NILSSON: Without them, no Without You

Behind most hit songs -- perhaps even behind many songs -- there can be an interesting story. As songwriters tell us in the Famous Elsewhere Songwriting Questionnaire, very few songs dropped fully... > Read more

A FAST 15 MINUTES: Is it better in English?

A FAST 15 MINUTES: Is it better in English?

A 15 minute programme of familiar songs sung in a language other than that in which they were written. The global village goes pop, in its own words. For more of these fast 15 minute programmes go... > Read more