Bassekou Kouyate is one of the true masters of the ngoni, an ancient traditional lute found throughout West Africa, and he has collaborated with many musicians in and outside of Mali: He played in the Symmetric trio alongside Toumani Diabate (kora) and Keletigui Diabate (balafon). He was part of Taj Mahal’s and Toumani Diabate’s ‘Kulanjan’ project, as well as being one of the key musicians on Ali Farka Toure’s posthumous album ‘Savane’ which was released July 2006. He toured with Ali Farka Toure leaving a lasting impression on the audience as the band’s solo ngoni player.
After his celebrated debut album ‘Segu Blue’ (Outhere Records) and the Grammy nominated follow up ‘I speak fula’ (Outhere Records), hundreds of concerts all over the globe, performing as headliner in the AfroCubism project. Just a few months ago, he appeared on stage together with Sir Paul McCartney, John Paul Jones, Damon Albarn and many others at the latest Africa Express events.
In 2013 Bassekou Kouyate returned with his album ‘Jama ko’ (Outhere Records). The album was recorded during the coup d’etat in March 2012 and is Bassekou’s statement of the ongoing crisis in Mali. The album was produced by Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Godspeed you! black emperor)and features Taj Mahal, Khaira Arby, Mocky Salole & many others. The album became album of the year in the World Music Charts Europe 2013 and became best world music album of the year in Les Inrockuptible, Mojo, Uncut & many others.
Bassekou’s fourth album Ba Power (and his first for Glitterbeat Records) is a striking, career defining record marked by mesmerizing songs, razor-sharp riffs and full-throttle emotions. The album contains all the swagger, precision and wide-eyed excitement that the title implies. It is the album where Bassekou’s music engages with the world in ways he could have only imagined 10 years before. It is the album where he confirms his status amongst the 21st centuries most relevant musical artists.
How we met:
We met with Bassekou in London, where he was performing with our friend Baaba Maal in July 2012.