Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba

Bassekou Kouyate completely revolutionized the ngoni, an ancient West African oblong lute traditionally used to accompany a singer. Kouyate plugged in, attached a strap and stepped out in front of an entire ensemble of ngonis, added a wah-wah pedal, bent notes with a bluesman's finesse, and peppered traditional Malian music with bits of rock, funk, jazz, and bluegrass. His quartet's latest album, Jama Ko, was recorded two years ago in Bamako while fighting raged between government forces and Islamic radicals intent on imposing draconian strictures, including banning music. Much of Jama Ko reflects that turbulence. Kouyate's electrified ngoni etches the exquisite angst of genuine Malian blues while his wife, Amy Sacko, and a few guests add undulating vocals laced with scintillating poignancy, the band's muscular beauty undeniably powerful.
Sat., Jan. 25, 7 p.m., 2014

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The Cedar Cultural Center

416 Cedar Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55454


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