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ARTIST
TITLE
Segu Blue
FORMAT
CD

LABEL
CATALOG #
OH 007CD OH 007CD
GENRE
RELEASE DATE
10/9/2007

2007 release, restocked. Major U.S. tour in progress now. Segu Blue introduces the first solo album from Malinese ngoni player, Bassekou Kouyate. Ngoni is the Bambara name for an ancient traditional lute found throughout West Africa that is plucked with the thumb, much like a 5-stringed banjo. Bassekou was born in a village called Garana about 60 kilometers from Segu, in the remote countryside on the banks of the Niger River. He was raised in a traditional musical environment, his mother a praise singer and his father and brothers exceptional ngoni players. He moved to Bamako when he was 19 years old where he met the young Toumani Diabate. By the late 1980s, Bassekou was part of Toumani's trio and they recorded their first albums together, Songhai and Djelika. Bassekou has collaborated with many musicians in and outside of Mali. He played in the Symmetric trio with Toumani Diabate on kora and Keletigui Diabate on balafon. He was part of the Kulanjan project recorded with Taj Mahal. He is one of the key musicians on Ali Farka Toure's posthumous album Savane which was released July 2006. Now he has put together his own band: Ngoni Ba; the big ngoni: Mali's first ngoni quartet. The ngoni is one of Africa's still-undiscovered secrets: it is the key instrument for Griot culture. Unlike the kora, whose history goes back only a few hundred years, the ngoni has been the main instrument in Griot storytelling way back into the days of Sundiata Keita. The repertoire Bassekou plays is from the region of Segu, the heart of Bambara culture. Unlike mandenka griot music, Bambara music is pentatonic in nature -- music as close to the blues as you can get in Africa. Segu Blue features artists Kassemady Diabate, Lobi Traore, Lassana Diabate and singer Zoumana Tereta. By the way, there is no kora or djembe on the album. Taj Mahal describes Bassekou as "a genius, a living proof that the blues comes from the region of Segu."