Everything Bassekou Kouyaté does celebrates Mother Earth. On the four strings of his n’goni, the ancestral lute of the griots (bards), the musician uses Miri to write the dream of a reconciled Mali – dedicating the result to the late Kassé Mady Diabaté.
Indeed, it is Kouyaté’s turn to act as an ambassador. Along with his house backing-band, N’Goni Ba, they get together with a myriad of guests including the Moroccan oudist Majid Bekkas, Afel Bocoum and Habib Koite, whom he met when they debuted together in Toumani Diabaté’s Symmetric Orchestra.
Kouyaté’s repertoire can be traced back to near Ségou, the royal city whose stories lull here, cradled in the refrains. Although the roots of this music are traditional, it nevertheless flourishes in the present thanks to the invigorating rock branches grown through international adventures alongside Damon Albarn and U2.
Miri’s strength lies in its frugality. For this, his fourth opus, Bassekou Kouyaté deploys dexterity and his vast experience of the n’goni through several techniques. Afro-Cubano inflections form themselves in a nod to 60s Las Maravillas of Mali dances (“Wele Cuba”) and bottleneck blues provide an appropriate criticism of the bleak 2018 Malian elections on (“Wele Ni”), something that occurred while he said farewell to his mother Yakare. Awo!
Awo = “yes” in Bambara.
Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba, Miri (Outhere Records)