Ba Cissoko


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Given his reputation in Europe and his native Guinea, as well as his pedigree, the debut from kora player Ba Cissoko and his group arrives with plenty to live up to. For once, though, all the hype is more than justified. There's plenty of dance music on hand here; all of it from the Manding tradition, but given a healthy, and sometimes daring edge that makes it contemporary without being deliberately modern. Cissoko himself plays acoustic kora, and his skill is quite breathtaking. But things take a tilt into the unknown when the band's other kora player, Sekou Kouyate amplifies his instrument. While you know it's still a kora, the things he does with it turn it on its head -- it's little wonder he's been called the Jimi Hendrix of the instrument. The sound becomes totally new, exciting waterfalls of notes that are palpably thrilling. The rhythm section of bass and percussion anchor it all, and keep the groove going quite effortlessly. This is trail-blazing, purely West African music of a kind not heard in far too long, and completely irresistible.

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