Kora Grooves from West Africa

N'Faly Kouyate

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Kora Grooves from West Africa Review

by Adam Greenberg

From the Afro Celt Sound System comes N'Faly Kouyate performing with his own smaller, slightly more traditional group Dunyakan. The music is based in traditional Guinean griot forms, but there are infusions of jazz, blues, and other ethnic musics. As such, it's difficult to make direct comparisons to other performers. His playing is perhaps less clean than a Foday Musa Suso, but that could well be due simply to the heavier use of electronics. It's less exciting than some of the contemporary fusionists, but again that's due to the fact that Kouyate is holding decently well to tradition. The accents away from the traditional kora repertoire come almost entirely from the rest of the band (though Kouyate does take an amazing solo on the balofon in Wawa that would make Keletigui Diabate jealous), with guitars and drum kits taking the focus of the rhythm for long stretches. The performances here are top-notch, but the music won't be for everyone, largely because it sits in the middle of so many spectra. It's not fully traditional, and yet not terribly adventurous. It's not powerfully loud or soothingly soft. It's neither energetic nor lethargic. For some, that leads it to be just right. For others, something more mainstream (or further off-stream) might be the answer.

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