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...

4

Bassekou Kouyate / Tamikrest / Sidi Toure: London, January 26, 2013

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Bassekou Kouyate / Tamikrest / Sidi Toure
Barbican
London
January 26, 2013

Ten days earlier, the vibe at this Malian package show—billed as Sahara Soul—would likely have been jumpy rather than joyful. The northern half of Mali seemed secure in the hands of Islamist invaders, who were intent on destroying the region's indigenous music and culture and poised to move south and take the Malian capital, Bamako.

But, on January 26, 2013, the mood onstage at the Barbican was unmistakably celebratory. Following intervention by the French military, the Islamists had been driven north and a combined French and Malian force was poised to retake Timbuktu, the last major town in the hands of the invaders.

It is good to see these barbarous oafs getting routed, and headliner Bassekou Kouyate, leading his six-piece band Ngoni Ba, was not shy about saying so. In a dignified and heartfelt address to the audience halfway through the set, Kouyate, speaking in a mixture of English and French, denounced the imposition of sharia law on Mali and thanked the French for their action.

The set itself was largely taken from Ngoni Ba's recent, third album, the roots-based but outward looking Jama Ko (Out Here, 2013). On the disc, 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). And so it was onstage at the Barbican. Intensely visceral, driven by the relentless eighth-notes of Moctar Kouyate's calabash, and supported by another two electric ngoni players and his wife, the singer Aminata Sacko, Kouyate's playing raised the familiar question: Where does West African desert blues stop and US Delta blues start? As his countryman, the late guitarist Ali Farka Toure proved long ago, answering that question will keep the ethnomusicologists busy for an eternity.

The evening opened with blinding set from guitarist Sidi Toure and his four piece band: two guitars, an ngoni and a calabash. Resonances with Delta blues were again much to the fore, though the absence of the sonic inventiveness which marks Ngoni Ba's music made for a slightly less jaw-dropping experience. In retrospect anyway. At the time it sounded just dandy.

Toure was followed by the Touareg band Tamikrest. A six-piece including electric guitars, bass guitar and, occasionally, kit drums rather than a calabash, Tamikrest's music—like that of Touareg bands Tinariwen and Terakaft—is more rock and roll than bluesy. The piercing ululations of female singer Aghaly Ag Mohamedine, initially rather too piercing, began to make sense as the set progressed, hitting the same spot as the cries of Spanish flamenco singers. The ethnomusicologists could spend another eternity untangling flamenco from North and West African music.

The evening was a huge success, and the sold-out auditorium had a ball.

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

Live Reviews
JAZZTOPAD 2018
By Henning Bolte
February 16, 2019
Live Reviews
America At The Paramount
By Mike Perciaccante
February 16, 2019
Live Reviews
Brussels Jazz Festival 2019
By Martin Longley
February 15, 2019
Live Reviews
Gourmet At April Jazz Club
By Anthony Shaw
February 13, 2019
Live Reviews
Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science at Cologne Philharmonic
By Phillip Woolever
February 12, 2019
Live Reviews
Quentin Baxter Quintet At The Jazz Corner
By Martin McFie
February 12, 2019
Live Reviews
Kraków Jazz Juniors Competition 2018
By Martin Longley
February 12, 2019