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Yet another great album from Mali
on 3 October 2013
"Jama Ko" is the third album by Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, and it lives up to the high standards of the previous two.
Bassekou Kouyate plays the ngoni, a west African lute, electrified on this album. His wife sings most of the vocals with her powerful voice and now the band is becoming a family affair with his two sons also playing ngonis. They are joined by many other musicians, notably Taj Mahal on one particularly bluesy track and a male lead vocalist on a few others. The musicianship is excellent and the overall sound is a combination of tradition and modernity.
The album contains helpful and detailed liner notes in English explaining each song and the context to the album, which was recorded in Mali during a military coup and an extremist insurgency in the country's north. Accordingly, political concerns and a defiant defence of tolerance and unity are key themes on the album, along with morals that can be learned from Malian history. Some of this anger could be guessed from the music alone without reading the liner notes, but on the whole the album still has an upbeat sound to it.
Anyone familiar with the group's earlier work, or with Malian or west African music in general, should get this album. Coming from a country that produces so much beautiful music, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba are right up with the best of Malian musicians.