Yan Kuba Saho

Kora Music From Gambia

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The kora -- a 21-stringed harp with a large gourd resonator commonly used by West African griots -- is, in masterful hands, one of the world's most beautiful instruments. This album marks the recording debut of Gambian griot Yan Kuba Saho, who's been playing kora for 40 years, and from the sound of these eight tunes you can bet it won't be his last. The kora is a bright, sprightly sounding instrument, and in the hands of someone as nimble as Saho, it can create a folksy sound as exuberant as the best Afro-pop. Accompanied by his wife on percussion and backing vocals, Saho sings buoyant songs of praise for friends, warriors, and local leaders in a warm tenor that radiates emotion. The album's best song, "Faal Suso," is a moving tribute to Saho's late uncle, who was renowned as a great teacher. If he can hear Kora Music From Gambia in heaven, you can bet he's smiling down on a musician who must have been his finest student.

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