Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/9960
Mali's master of the ngoni
SENAN REVIEWS Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba in concert at London's Barbican centre.
If you define music as 'pro-fessionally' delivered crotch-grabbing and screeching, it was absent. The musicians did not pose in designer clothes of the latest haute couture; nor were there 50 underwear-clad dancers in the background to support.
Instead Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba even had to struggle through the audio system set-up, and still managed to land the sound naturally into the ears of the packed crowd.
But by 'natural' don't assume that this music was in any way a 'soft' sound. Rather it vibrated the whole stage and the audience.
It was impossible to believe that these sounds were emerging through such very subtle hand movements and through such a small piece of wood in the hand that looked more like a cricket bat.
The hands of the dancing drum-mer were tied to his instrument and never stopped vibrating. The female singer had to walk across to help wipe his sweat with a towel as he didn't have a chance.
In between her voice poured out into the hall, filling it. The show ended with the entire, previously restrained, audience jumping up and down with appreciation.
Ngoni is the Bambara name for an ancient traditional lute found throughout West Africa. This band comes from Mali and is worth listening to and definitely worth going to see.