By Marc Bruner
Bassekou has done stellar work for many years, on many albums, with Toumani Diabate, Ali Farka Toure, Oumou Sangare, Taj Mahal and Bela Fleck. So I've long known about his artistry on the ngoni. But with his own group he gets to show how talented a composer and arranger he is. The music is traditional, yet it's forward-thinking.
But the albums could not prepare me for the live show. Endless funky jamming that had the crowd moving from start to finish, with Bassekou setting the groove and none other than Taj Mahal in the first row right next to me, dancing, singing, and yelling with joy. At one point Bassekou was explaining to the crowd what an ngoni was, and Taj yelled out "It's the African banjo!" It was a great night and the level of energy and musicianship was unparalleled.
I'm already craving the next release, the next tour. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba. Wow.