Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: I Speak Fula / Things About Comin' My Way -- A Tribute to the Music of the Mississippi Sheiks

I Speak Fula
Michael Lipton reviews Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba's I Speak Fula.
While the music of Mali griot Bassekou Kouyate is steeped in centuries of tradition, Kouyate -- who was recently tapped by Bela Fleck to participate in "The Africa Project" -- brings the music into the 21st century without sacrificing one iota of passion, reverence or musicianship. A master of the ngoni (an ancient precursor to the banjo), Kouyate's music is imbued with the gentle, buoyant spirit, otherworldly vocals and intricate rhythms that make up West African music.

A Tribute to The Mississippi Sheiks - Things About Comin' My Way
and Things About Comin' My Way - A Tribute to the Music of the Mississippi Sheiks.
The ubiquitous "tribute project" has become something of pest in the world of CD releases. For the most part, they consist of mildly interesting (at best) versions of an artists' canon of songs and usually have more to do with promoting the participating bands.

However, this tribute to the Mississippi Sheiks, the long revered string band that was a top-seller in the 1920s, is different on a few counts. Not only is the lineup interesting -- from the North Mississippi Allstars and Bruce Cockburn to Danny Barnes and Bill Frisell (a trombone/guitar version of "That's It") -- but the arrangements are well-conceived and creative.
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