Habib Koité is among an impressive group of iconic Malian guitarists. Koité favors acoustic guitar (unlike the late Ali Farka Touré, for instance), fashioning a rich, exquisitely textured sound distinguished by subtle flourishes and a profound melodicism. He uses a mix of Western tunings and those derived from traditional Malian instruments, particularly the four-stringed n'goni. Much of Koité's music flows with a kind of wistful majesty, simmering rhythms combining with his soulful tenor, intricacies etched by his guitar and the balafon, plus an occasional chorus in call-and-response mode. On their last album, 2007's Afiki, Koité and his group weaved a seductive brand of Afro-pop from Western and pan-Malian elements. "Namania" has a rock backbeat, "Africa" sports a horn chart by James Brown associate Pee Wee Ellis, and Koité takes the blues back home on several cuts, particularly "Fimani" with Boubacar Sidibe adding harmonica, and "Titati," a gorgeous solo guitar piece that vividly evokes country blues.
Tue., March 30, 7 p.m., 2010