Meet Mali’s Jimi Hendrix: Bassekou Kouyate

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bassekou Kouyate can be thought of as the Jimi Hendrix of Mali. But instead of the guitar, Kouyate is a master of the ngoni, the ancient traditional lute found throughout West Africa (and probably at many Phish shows as well).

Backed by his band — Ngoni Ba (four ngonis — all played by members of his family) — Kouyate has just released his second album, I Speak Fula, which Sub Pop! records describes as a star-studded tour of pan-Malian music, including collaborations with Toumani Diabaté, griot vocal legend Kasse Mady Diabaté, master of the horse-hair soku fiddle Zoumana Tereta, and guitar phenomenon Vieux Farka Toure, Ali’s precociously talented son.

And you spent high school playing the boring old guitar.

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