Review: Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Jamo Ko

Posted on: Saturday, Jun 15, 2013


Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Jamo Ko

(Out Here Records)

To those of you who have been a little unsure of Bassekou Kouyate’s “West African blues” – this is the album for you. Bassekou plays the ngoni, often cited as the ancestor of the banjo, and on this set, with the title track a plea for peace in his native Mali, he frequently adopts a far tougher sound than before, with some almost rocking down-home Mississippi licks on ‘Ne Me Fatigue Pas’ and the joyous ‘’Segu Jajiri’, and there is something akin to a blues-rock approach on a couple of other numbers – he even plays his ngoni with a wah wah pedal on one track!.

Maybe the presence of co-producer Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Godspeed) helps, maybe Bassekou has picked up something from touring and working recently with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. The blues itself is certainly made explicit on ‘Poye 2’, a strongly John Lee Hookeresque duet with none other than a very much in-form Taj Mahal. With help from several younger Malian musicians, Bassekou’s talented wife/ singer Amy Sacko, and several guests local and international, this set should convince doubters.


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