The undisputed king of the ngoni – a distant ancestor of the banjo and one of the oldest string instruments in Africa – returns to London after the sell-out success of Sahara Soul, the tribute concert for Mali and its rich musical traditions hosted at the Barbican in January 2013.
In recent years Bassekou Kouyate has single-handedly propelled his instrument on to the international stage, combining tradition with electrifying virtuosity and breaking into previously unexplored jazz, blues and rock and roll territories.
Along the way, he was nominated for a Grammy Award, he and his band Ngoni ba have been hailed by The Independent as ‘the best rock’n’roll band in the world’, and he has been the first world music artist to sign with American record label Sub Pop – usually home of bands like Nirvana, Low and Mogwai.
Tonight you can experience the full power of his latest album Jama ko – recorded during the military coup which took place in Mali last year – up close, in the intimate setting of the iconic Islington venue.
Brazilian singer, songwriter, journalist and politician Chico Cesar opens the evening. His compositions blend rhythms like carimbó, folia and forró with pop music, reggae, salsa and juju music. In 2001, the Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop Performance was awarded to Sting for his interpretation of the song Soberana Rosa (She walks this Earth) composed by Chico Cesar, Ivan Lins and Victor Martins. He is due to release a new album worldwide in 2015.
‘Defiant, angry new music from Mali by the world's greatest exponent of the ngoni, the ancient West African lute ... Magnificent.’★★★★ Guardian Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba - 'Jama Ko'