Passport Series: Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba

Friday, February 16, 2024

“Ngoni virtuoso Bassekou Kouyate can make notes bend like light rays in the desert heat.” -Time Out Magazine

Bassekou Kouyate is one of the true masters of the ngoni, an ancient traditional lute found throughout West Africa. He is a virtuoso, innovator, stronghold of tradition all at the same time.

He has collaborated with many musicians in and outside of Mali: He has shared the stages with the likes of Youssou N‘Dour, Ali Farka Toure, Bela Fleck, The Kronos Quartet, Taj Mahal, Eliades Ochoa, Damon Albarn and Michael League. He was one of the key musicians on Ali Farka Toure’s posthumous album “Savane” which was released July 2006, played in the Symmetric trio alongside Toumani Diabate (kora) and was part of Taj Mahal’s “Kulanjan” project. He won several BBC Awards for his celebrated debut album “Segu Blue” (Outhere Records). Bassekou was GRAMMY nominated for the follow up “I speak fula” (Outhere Records) and played hundreds of concerts all over the globe, sharing the stage with musicians from Paul McCartney to John Paul Jones, Bono & many others. 

After his last two celebrated albums “Jama ko” and “BaPower” that went more in a rock direction, Bassekou Kouyate and his band Nogni ba now return with the more subtle and rootsy album, “Miri” (dream in Bamana). “Miri” is an album about love, friendship, family and true values in times of crisis. Miri means dream or contemplation in Bamana. On “Miri,” Bassekou travels back to his hometown Garana, a small village at the banks of the Niger river, with an instrumental song that captures the feeling of Bassekou sitting at the banks of the Niger far away from the noise, traffic jams and political turmoil of Bamako while thinking about life.