In 2003 I discovered Salif Keita’s perfect album Moffou, Damon Albarn’s Mali Music, and Ali Farka Toure all in the span of a couple of months. This opened the door for me to the wealth of music from Mali, and I’ve wanted a one-way ticket to Bamako ever since.
The Walker will be bringing Malian rising star Bassekou Kouyate and his band Ngoni Ba—in a co-presentation with the Cedar Cultural Center—to the Cedar’s stage, next Saturday, April 10. Kouyate named his band, Ngoni Ba, after the ngoni, “an ancient traditional lute found throughout West Africa”, according to the World Music Institute; “Ngoni Ba is the first group built around the ngoni that also combines ngonis of different sizes” to make a full band sound. His music ranges from low-key desert blues (see video below) to something a little more amped.
The opportunity to see international musicians here in Minnesota is rare, and unfortunately, in the past year, the U.S. Citizens and Immigration Service has begun more restrictive policies in approving visas of touring artists. In other words, folks, this opportunity might not come around again soon.
Here’s a preview of what the show will have to offer:
The Bassekou Kouyate show is part of the Cedar’s “West Africa West Bank” concert series. The day after Kouyate’s show, Senegalese musician Baaba Maal will be performing, and on June 16, electric-funk band Tinariwen performs. These shows promise incredible musicianship and a unique opportunity to engage with the music of West Africa without an expensive (but probably worth it) ticket to Festival in the Desert.
Just for fun, here are links to my favorite tracks by the artists mentioned in this blog, plus a song by another great Malian group.
Tomorrow by Salif Keita (from the album Papa and the Ali Soundtrack)
Nabintou Diakite singing a capella from Damon Albarn’s Mali Music
Television by Baaba Maal (a collaboration with the Brazilian Girls)
Matadjem Yinmixan by Tinariwen
Sabali by Amadou and Mariam