Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

9

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Jama Ko

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba

Jama Ko

Out/Here

2013

Malian ngoni player Bassekou Kouyate and his band, Ngoni Ba's third album continues the increasingly outward-looking trajectory of its predecessors. The debut, the lovely Segu Blue (Out/Here, 2007), was unadorned roots music. Its follow-up, the more visceral I Speak Fula (Out/Here, 2010), wove amplification into what was still basically an acoustic sound and, on two tracks, featured Vieux Farka Toure, son of Ali Farka Toure, on electric guitar. On Jama Ko—as with his performances as part of the travelling package show Africa Express—Kouyate has taken the process a step further, ramping up the universality of his music. Winningly, he has done so without diminishing its singularity.

On the new album, Kouyate and Ngoni Ba mostly play amplified ngonis, with Kouyate himself also using a wah-wah pedal and other sonic distortion devices to great effect. When Kouyate solos on the electric instrument, he sounds as much like guitarist Muddy Waters on his 1968 psychedelic-Chicago blues outing, Electric Mud (Cadet), as he does a ngoni player from West Africa. But then, as Ali Farka Toure's recordings demonstrated long ago, identifying where West African desert blues stops and American Delta blues begins would be labor worthy of Hercules.

The album was recorded in Bamako, Mali in March 2012, when the north of the country was becoming infested by Islamists intent on destroying the region's traditional culture. Since then, if you follow the news, you will know that the situation has become worse.

Jama Ko (which means a big gathering of people) is Kouyate's defiant response. "There are over 90% Muslims in Mali," he says, "but our form of Islam here has nothing to do with a radical form of Sharia: that is not our culture. We have been singing praise songs for the Prophet for hundreds of years. If the Islamists stop people music making they will rip the heart out of Mali."

Peace and plurality will, hopefully, return to Mali soon. This disc, certainly, will endure. Jama Ko is African culture at its best.

Tracks: Jama Ko; Sinaly; Dankou; Ne Me Fatigue Pas; Kele Magni; Madou; Nensogni; Mali Koori; Wagadou; Djadje; Segu Jajiri; Poye 2; Moustafa.

Personnel: Bassekou Kouyate: solo ngoni; Amy Sacko: vocals; Abou Sissoko: ngoni medium; Moustafa Kouyate: ngoni ba; Mamadou Kouyate: ngoni bass; Moctar Kouyate: calabash; Mahamadou Tounkara: yabara, karingnan, tama.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Feb27Wed
Habib Koité, Bassekou Kouyate
Revolution Hall
Portland, OR
$30
Feb28Thu
Habib Koité, Bassekou Kouyate
Triple Door
Seattle, WA
Mar10Sun
Bassekou Kouyate
Somerville Theatre
Somerville, MA
Mar15Fri
Habib Koité, Bassekou Kouyate
Le Poisson Rouge
New York, NY

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

African Jazz
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Jama Ko
By Chris May
January 14, 2013
African Jazz
Owiny Sigoma Band: Rising From The East
By Chris May
May 1, 2011
African Jazz
Compilations: Doing The Right Thing
By Chris May
December 5, 2010
African Jazz
The Majestic “Return” of King Sunny Ade & His African Beats
By Chris May
September 29, 2010
African Jazz
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: I Speak Fula
By Chris May
January 28, 2010