Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba

Grammy Award nominated Bassekou Kouyate’s extraordinary musical journey shows that he is unquestionably the most innovative and exciting Malian musician to have emerged in recent years. Having defied tradition he continues to push the boundaries of his ancient musical heritage, bringing his music to audiences around the world with his phenomenal live band Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba and three internationally acclaimed albums. It is his daring reworking of his musical heritage that makes him a truly contemporary African musician – a visionary and a maverick who has completely changed our perception of this ancient instrument. By reviving one of the oldest instruments in the world he has bridged the gap between the music of his forefathers to the 21st Century, distinguishing him as an exceptionally talented artist of international stature.

The band are no stranger to these shores. In 2013 there were stunning headline performances at the sold-out ‘Sahara Soul‘ concerts and a range of summer festivals (Glastonbury and Latitude), as well as the BBC Proms. Bassekou has also been performing as part of the AfroCubism project and regularly takes part in Damon Albarn’s Africa Express project (including performing on stage with Sir Paul McCartney). Bassekou’s electrifying performances have thrilled audiences and critics alike, and he now returns to the UK for a tour in March 2014. Band on the Wall & Root Music present shows in Manchetser, Clitheroe, Stockton on Tees and Barton Upon Humber.

In less than 6 years since the release of his first album with the Ngoni ba, Bassekou Kouyate has forged a distinctive sound earning him numerous accolades and awards. His debut album Segu Blue released by outhere records, became one of the most celebrated African releases of 2007, and was awarded Album of the Year and Best African Artist at the BBC 3 Awards for World Music. The success attracted American indie label Subpop, who picked up Bassekou’s sophmore album ‘I speak fula’ in 2010 as their first ever world music release. This second album earned him his first Grammy Award nomination in 2011. More up-tempo than its predecessor, the album captured the incredible live energy of Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba prompting the Independent to call them “the best rock’n’roll band in the world”.

His third album Jama ko followed in January 2013 and was produced by Arcade Fire allumni Howard Billerman. The album has been celebrated around the world, with the Guardian calling it “defiant, angry new music from Mali by the world’s greatest exponent of the ngoni, the ancient West African lute … Magnificent.”

The recording of Jama Ko took place in March 2012 in Mali’s capital Bamak. It became political by accident. In the afternoon of the first day in the studio the military overthrew the president Amadou Toumani Toure.  It was a shock for Bassekou as the former president was a great supporter of his music. Somewhere between power cuts, fuel shortages and the uncertainty of daily curfews the recording went on. Meanwhile the situation in the north of Mali was getting worse and worse by the day. In the studio a musical answer started taking shape: Instead of keeping quiet Bassekou plugged in his wah wah pedal, cranked up his amp and let loose: “Ne me fatigue pas” is the title of one of the tracks: don’t wear me out. You can hear the heartbeat of Malian music pulsing in this music.

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Band On The Wall, 25 Swan Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 5JZ

£18.00 / 0845 2 500 500