Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba Jama ko

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni BaJama ko
Malian musician Bassekou Kouyaté has an unquestionable pedigree when it comes to African blues. An expert ngoni player, he's performed alongside such luminaries as Toumani Diabaté and Taj Mahal (the latter featured here on penultimate track "Poye 2"), as well as being one of the key musicians on Ali Farka Toure's posthumously released Savane. Jama ko (meaning "a big gathering of people") is the follow-up to I Speak Fula, his excellent (and Grammy-nominated) album for Sub Pop in 2009, and it's every bit as good as its predecessor. Opening with the transporting title track, the energy doesn't let up until eight tracks in with "Mali Koori," its gripping central vocals by Zoumana Tereta, followed by the slow and mournful-sounding "Wagadou." The album features a new backing band for Kouyaté, which include his two sons Madou and Moustafa, and was recorded in the Malian capital of Bamako by Arcade Fire collaborator Howard Bilerman. Several tracks also have additional instrumentation from Montreal's Barr Brothers. Recorded amidst the background of the recent Malian riots, the album is a call for peace and an end to religious infighting. Although political in nature, the feel of the record is unabashedly joyful and if Jama ko doesn't form part of your summer listening, you are missing out on something very special. (Out Here)