Tue Feb. 6, 2018

Sekou Kouyate (GN)

Sekou Kouyate: cora, vocals
John Mutumbo: guitar
Teun Creemers: bass, vocals
Francis Kweku Osei: rums, tama, vocals

Sekou Kouyate is one of Africa’s most exhilarating Kora players’ - Robin Denselow, The Guardian

‘Sabaru’ is the new album by the multi Award winning Guinean Kora virtuoso, singer and composer, Sekou Kouyate, who invented the electrified kora at the amazing age of 12 - and went on to pioneer the sound with Wa Wa pedals, fast riffs, experimental distortions and rock and jazz-influenced playing.Sekou Kouyate is considered among the world’s finest Kora players. His new solo album, ‘Sabaru’, meaning patience, sums up Sekou ́s musical history. Rooted in his West African traditions and influenced by the contemporary Blues, Soul, Funk and Jazz, that has also been his early inspirations, Sekou ́s sound, mode of playing and the invention of the electric Kora, has inspired a whole new generation of Kora players. Releasing the album ‘Sabaru’, Sekou Kouyate was nominated for Afrima Awards 2015 and SABARU was on the Top Ten list of ‘World Music Charts Europe’ in October, November & December. ‘Transglobal World Music Chart Top 20’ November and ‘Global Village Top 40’ December. In October Sekou Kouyate won a ‘Gold Medal from Global Music Awards’. ‘Sabaru’ was selected by ‘World Music Charts Europe’ to be one of the‘100 best albums of 2016’.

Sabaru One World Records SKCV123It could be this first new album encountered in 2017 turns out to be the year’s best. This Guinean-born jali is probably best known to British listeners - certainly this one, for his experimental combinations with the England-based New Yorker guitars Joe Driscoll. Interesting though that partnership is, it does not convey the breadth and depth of Sekou’s performances as an outstanding kora player where as this album does. Sekou’ s father, M’Bady Kouyate had a hugely succesful career in the post- Independence band Ballet African and his own band Section Kora and the young Sekou was a child prodigy playing alongside his father and uncles. He is credited as the first person to develop an electric kora and both that and the acoustic version appear on this album. Sekou has traveled and lived in the West and absorbed much that broadens his musical horizons. Inevitably his stunning technique on the electric kora played through a wah wah pedal have brought simplistic comparisons with Jimi Hendrix but it would be easy to argue that Sekou’s approach is less flashy and more disciplined. He plays with a number of other musicians, mainly kora players and a range of percussionists. Their surnames tell us that they are mainly from jail families.The final track, Mobeny, seems to make a statement. He seems to be saying, ‘OK. I have demonstrated a range of ways that the kora can be fitted into a modern context. Now I am going to demonstrate that I can play a traditional Manding jali kora solo as well as anybody” ... and that is just what he proceeds to do. (Vic Smith)