Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni bacopresented by The Cedar and Walker Art Center
2009 BBC3 World Music Award Winner: Album of the Year ('Segu Blue') and Best African Act; Nominee for Best Newcomer
“To all the rock ‘n’ rollers of the USA, I’m coming in February, 2010!”
That’s Malian maestro Bassekou Kouyate with a heads-up well worth heeding. A virtuoso picker and musical visionary whose work blurs the lines between West African and American roots music, Bassekou has jammed with Bonnie Raitt and Bono, and won praise from Eric Clapton. He’s also dug into blues and country music with Taj Mahal and created freewheeling improvisations with banjo maverick Bela Fleck. Bela featured him in his film Throw Down Your Heart. The soundtrack album and the title track (performed by Bassekou) won Grammy’s this year in the Best Contemporary World Music Album and Best Pop Instrumental Performance categories. Bassekou Kouyate is one of Mali's best-known Ngoni players. Bassekou’s instrument, the ngoni, is a “spike lute” and an ancestor of the banjo, sharing its taut-skinned drum body, percussive attack, and varied picking techniques. Since 2005, Bassekou has led Ngoni Ba, the first-ever group built around not one but four ngonis—all played by members of his family. The group’s second CD I Speak Fula was released on Sub Pop in February 2010, coinciding with Bassekou’s first U.S. tour as a headliner.
I Speak Fula is the first release on Next Ambiance, a new label founded by Jon Kertzer host of KEXP’s Best Ambiance Radio show and Sub Pop co-founder Jon Poneman, and the newest addition to the Sub Pop family. Next Ambiance continues the musical exploration of Best Ambiance, with an emphasis on mind-blowing and life-changing artists with no particular regional or cultural bias.
"They just keep getting better. The instrumental pyrotechnics never fail to amaze. They've obviously been doing some technical work on the ngonis for improved sound - Bassekou now has a volume control!. But if the music astonishes with its ever increasing tightness, the whole visual show is just joyful too - the choreography has gone up another level. At times their synchronised footwork is like one of those great 60s soul reviews, at others they remind of the Shadows or Status Quo. All this in gold robes bathed in orange and red light, as regal as you can get, and with Ami Sacko singing up a sandstorm. Just as you think it can't get any better, Bassekou breaks out the wah-wah while the tama bubbles and burbles. Disco ngoni through a Fender amp - how cool can you get?!“ (Ian Anderson, fRoots)
“Contender for African album of the year.” * Uncut
“This is a cracker.” **** Mojo
“Spectacular.” BBC online
“Truly irresistible.” Music Week
“Fizzes with energy.” **** Observer Music Monthly
“There’s unlikely to be a better African album this year.” * Evening Standard
“Ferociously powerful album … Superb.” The Independent (Album of the Week)
“Soon the world will speak Fula.” Metro
This tour is presented in collaboration with World Music Institute and is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Additional support for this performance is provided by the COMPAS Travelers Arts & Diversity Program.
Tickets are on sale now from The Cedar Ticketline (612-338-2674 ext 2), Cedar outlets, The Walker Box Office (612.375.7600), and online at Ticketweb and The Walker.
Standing room only. The Cedar will accommodate people with special needs.
This activity is made possible in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008, and a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota.