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Bassekou Kouyaté and Ngoni Ba - Ba Power (Glitterbeat)

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The fourth album by Mali's family band Bassekou Kouyaté and Ngoni Ba quite simply reveals a band stretching out to otherwise unchartered territory with just nine songs, each loaded with a driving energy. The title itself suggests a certain dynamism, the word 'ba' meaning 'strong' in Bambara. This strength permeates the nine songs with some soaring interplay between all the instruments in the ngoni (African lute) family and several forms of percussion, as well as contributions from a handful of guests on their respective instruments. Amy Sacko's distinctive vocal exemplifies the 'ba power' in its own right, but is highlighted further by the tight syncopated arrangements. Those characteristic riff-like combinations can be heard most notably midway through Abe Sumaya., which also features Chris Brokaw on guitar. The musical textures created by the frequent ngoni fills and flurries, backed up by the mesmerising rhythms created by Mamadou Kouyaté on the bass ngoni and the percussive drive of the yabara, tamani and tamaba delivered by Mahamadou Tounkara, together with the calabash playing of Moctar Kouyaté, demonstrates perfectly the close unity of Ngoni Ba as a whole. The additional bonus this time around, is the greater sense of collaboration, with several guest musicians adding to the mix. Veteran Songhai blues guitarist Samba Touré takes flight on Fami Magni, with Zoumana Tereta's guest vocal and trance-like Soku (single string violin) playing. Bamako Afro-pop artist Adama Yalomba provides yet another dimension to the sound, with a lead vocal on Waati. Recorded in Bamako and produced by Chris Eckman, BA POWER could be the band's finest hour so far and provides us with just the sort of music to get us up over the summer festival season.    

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky

Airplay: Abe Sumaya (Show372/19.04.15)
Release Date: 27.04.15
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