November 20, 2008

Ngoni time

The ngoni is a plucked lute-like stringed instrument from West Africa. Hear a beautiful demonstration of the same, as played by Mama Sissoko first.

And next Bassekou Kouyate on the ngoni & his band
, Ngoni Ba ("the big ngoni"), which is "a quartet of ngoni players—treble, mid range and bass—augmented by Kouyate's wife, Ami Sacko, on lead vocals, and two percussionists."

Incidentally, Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba won the 2008 Album of the Year (for their debut album - Segu Blue) & African Artist of the Year at the BBC3 Awards for World Music earlier this year. Apparently...

One of the undisputed highlights of this year's rain-sodden Womad festival in Wiltshire was a midnight feast of sound from Mali's Bassekou Kouyate and his group Ngoni ba. Accompanied by two percussionists and his gracefully dancing wife Amy Sacko on vocals, Kouyate led his immaculately attired group on the ngoni, a tiny, delicate-looking instrument that punches above its weight with sharp, scrabbling and plunking notes. The other three musicians also played ngonis of various sizes, trading piquant riffs and booming bass lines with him in a fascinating approximation of lead, rhythm and bass guitar. Even the rain couldn't break the spell they cast.
How I wish I could be at Womad or even the Desert Festival in Mali one of these days!

Leave you with one more live performance by
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba at Rostock on the 7th of Jun.

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