sat 08/08/2020

Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni ba, Barbican | reviews, news & interviews

Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni ba, Barbican

Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni ba, Barbican

The Malian ngoni master who has made long solos cool again

Each time Bassekou Kouyate's foot went up on the stage monitor, another rush and tumble of notes poured out

Many press releases from now up until Christmas are sure to begin with the words, “Fresh from wowing the crowds at Glastonbury…”, but that’s not going to stop me using them now with reference to this great Malian band. This is because we world music journalists feel a particular swell of pride when one of our beloved acts breaks through the Womad glass ceiling and gets to bring their complex polyrhythms and weird-looking instruments to the mainstream music fan. And what’s more, in the case of Ngoni ba, I’m sure that they genuinely did “wow” that sea of sun-burnt punters, because having seen them at least half a dozen times I’ve yet to witness an audience that hasn’t been pulled into their vortex of duelling ngonis, thumped and slapped calabash, and sweet soaring vocals.

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