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Mali Blues

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba

| Mali

"Singer Amy Sacko is as much the star of the show as Kouyate, imbuing strong melodies with a graceful confidence.“ **** The List

"His solo with wah wah pedal brought the ancient instrument into the present, sounding sometimes very traditional, sometimes like Muddy Waters." LondonJazz

"Fluid and furious rhythms, solo after solo dripping with an almost harp-like pluck and sweetness to the notes, Amy Sacko’s keening vocal and the dancing – all the band dancing and moving, playing little tricks but always playing for and with each other … One of the best nights I’ve had at a magical venue." ***** Music-News

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba - 'Jama Ko' UK media reactions "An album for anybody who likes rock music to sound angry about something." **** Mojo

"An urgent mix of African blues and funk, seething with anger and sadness, and with Kouyate's electrified ngoni cranked up to the max." 9/10 Uncut

"You can take this on whatever level you like, even just as one of the world's greatest live bands rocking out on virtuoso music that can hardly fail to burn your socks off, full of variety from the deep blues of Mali Kooro or the Taj-featured Poye 2 to the Latin hints on Sinaly and the pulsating Segu Jajiri which gives some of those golden age Guinéan or Congolese guitar bands a run for their money. It's Bassekou's best yet." fRoots

"A thrilling, urgent mix of African blues, rock and funk, with Bassekou's electrified banjo-like ngoni cranked to the max ... Mali's desperate plight has created Bassekou Kouyate's finest hour." ***** Songlines

"Ngoni virtuoso Bassekou Kouyate can make notes bend like light rays in the desert heat." Time Out

"A heady mix of stirring melodies and powerful harmonies ... Jama Ko is a triumphant union of the spiritual and the sensual." **** Metro

"Defiant, angry new music from Mali, by the world's greatest exponent of the ngoni, the ancient West African lute ... Magnificent. " **** The Guardian

"A tense, powerful and emotive piece of work." **** The Independent on Sunday

" ... Kouyate's electrification of his ngoni lute is just as effective a sign of resistance: fed through a wah-wah pedal, his serpentine, fleet-fingered lead lines gain a fresh, assertive power on songs like the title-track and “Ne Me Fatigue Pas”, where his band Ngoni Ba's muscular bassline and double-time percussion charges along like the most bullish of rock'n'roll grooves." ***** The Independent

"A brilliant and important album." ***** Evening Standard

"Jama Ko, recorded amid the continuing crisis in Mali, is electric and urgently contemporary." ***** Financial Times

"Kouyate has updated the dry-gut plucking of the traditional ngoni, adding electric pick-ups, distortion and effects pedals, creating an extraordinary array of sounds from a spindly metallic plinking to a grinding bluesy roar." The Daily Telegraph

"The ngoni may look quite unprepossessing – like a flattened child’s guitar. In Bassekou’s hands, however, plugged-in and pedalled-up, it becomes a guitar-hero masterclass, notes twisting and bending thrillingly over fast chattering rhythms." Irish Times

"Jama Ko could be his most defiant work." **** Record Collector

"Beautifully produced, full of light and shade, Jama Ko references the past, and offers hope for the future." **** Jazzwise

"Deftly balanced against the beautiful acoustic tones of his band Ngoni Ba, Kouyate creates a striking future-ancient sound." The List

"Kouyate’s solos are surrounded by a phased, burning aura, as his bent-note elaborations head further towards the desert rock of Tinariwen. He manages to explore this freshly electrified path without losing his acoustically sensitive properties, combining the crucial aspects of both loud and soft amplification levels. The small resonating box becomes a ringing chamber of contained power … The n’gonis are always upfront, but this is also an album of stunning vocals. Khaira Arby guests on Kel Magni, delivering her expectedly transcendent invocation for peace, the tune tripping towards a clapping, lurching escalation." BBC Music

"Exciting and brilliant music." Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2

"The best thing he has done and in terms of a musical statement it has power and depth as well as beauty and a deep sense of anger." Music-News

"Bassekou’s latest album is his most musically progressive." Musika

"Bassekou Kouyate reaffirms his status as a bona fide Malian music star ... Just a week into 2012, this could be one of the African music records of the." **** Culture Capital

"On his latest offering Kouyaté retains the warm, immediate sound of old, but this time round expands it with some other subtle stylistic innovations, best of which is the glorious 'Ne me fatigue pas (Don't tire me out)' that has an intoxicating Afro-beat rhythm, complete with talking drum and shuffling beat." UK Vibe

"On Jama Ko—as with his performances as part of the travelling package show Africa Express—Kouyate [is] ramping up the universality of his music. Winningly, he has done so without diminishing its singularity." All About Jazz

"The added production has given the Mali sound an extra ‘oomph’ and charismatic, sonorous resonance, without stripping away the ethnicity or original sound palette." God is in the TV

"If you’re becoming bored with your usual fix of music then I strongly recommend you listen to this. An early contender for inclusion in any Best of 2013 listings." Louder Than War

"On the roots-based but outward looking Jama Ko, Kouyate—playing an electric ngoni with the amp frequently turned up to eleven—sounds deliciously like guitarist Muddy Waters on his psychedelicised 1968 album, Electric Mud (Chess/Cadet)." All About Jazz (from the gig review)

"Jama Ko is an album that establishes the ngoni on the international stage and Kouyate as its master. The fact that his music should resonate so easily in Western ears is the icing on the cake." ***** emusic

"Wow, what an absolute sensation." Musicosis

"Jama Ko appears more urgent and impassioned [than the previous two albums]. Kouyate's ngoni is newly amplified, but it's the defiant quality of the songs that really shine though." The National

About Bassekou live at Sahara Soul, Barbican:
"Kouyaté’s ngoni playing, as ever, peeled away from the music into an ecstatic realm of its own." **** Financial Times

"Bassekou Kouyate detonated one electrifying showpiece after another." **** The Times

"The most angry and political Malian release in recent weeks has come from the ngoni virtuoso Bassekou Kouyaté, the headliner at this remarkable and inevitably political Malian triple bill ... It was Bassekou who dominated; playing the smallest ngoni, he used a wah-wah pedal for his exhilarating rapid-fire solos. He also made two angry speeches, first to denounce the rebel imposition of sharia law, and then to attack those responsible for last year's military coup." **** The Guardian

"Bassekou Kouyate’s heavy mustard-yellow robes over a Shaft-style long leather jacket make his entrance regally impressive, even before he starts to pull improbably rich sounds from a cricket bat-resembling ngoni ... Kouyate’s second-half performance sees him plant a foot on the monitors for a forceful but unaggressive solo, leading his band of egoless ngoni virtuosos. Sacko, her voice and movements a female rebuff to fundamentalism, tag-teams with her husband. His frustrated incomprehension at the affronts to his country crashes through language barriers." **** The Independent

"Kouyaté was defiant, inspired. Solos came with a wah-wah pedal. Sacko’s voice soared and echo-ed. A talking drum hammered the point home." **** Evening Standard

"Bassekou Kouyaté’s ngoni looks like a real bugger to play. Its hollow body is the size and shape of a child’s cricket bat and its rounded fretless neck is thinner than that of a broomstick. It’s a mystery how anyone gets a note out of this ancestor of the banjo's four strings, never mind play the kind of galloping, coruscating solos that this Malian virtuoso gets out of it. … Jama Ko feels ablaze with the band’s anger and outrage." ***** The Arts Desk

"The band’s sound is bright and piercing, and Kouyaté’s wah-wah enhanced Ngoni solos frequently take exhilarating flight." ***** musicOMH

"The final segment of the show, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba, was the pinnacle, the crowning moment on which to hang your hat, or shake your boubou so to speak ... Outstanding." Musika

About Bassekou live at Sahara Soul, Glasgow: "Ngoni Ba could never be described as lumbering. Their expertly choreographed movements are light-footed and their playing lithe and almost liquid in its fluency, with the alternately deeply plunging and highly pitched singing tones of a talking drum adding to the exhilarating urgency of Sacko's singing and their intricately meshed bass, tenor and treble ngonis. Kouyaté's own playing, suggestive of styles including blues and flamenco, and his range of tones and depth of expression continue to amaze, a virtuosity all the more cherishable for being worn so lightly." **** The Herald (about Celtic Connections)

On tour

 (8132 Bytes)

Maarja Nuut

28.09. DE-Düsseldorf
30.09. RU-St.Petersburg
12.10. GR-Thessaloniki
14.10. FR-Cholet
19.10. BE-Brussels
21.10. GB-Whitby
26.10. NL-Tilburg
27.10. NL-Rotterdam
05.11. NO-Oslo
16.01. LU-Luxembourg
17.01. LU-Luxembourg
26.01. BE-Turnhout
27.01. BE-Turnhout
16.02. DE-Berlin
21.03. IR-Dublin
01.09. DE-Wesel

The award-winning artist has been absorbing the rich tradition of Estonian folk and translates it into contemporary music.