Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba

October 23rd, 2014

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The 2014 Earshot Jazz Festival continues and last Thursday presented Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba at the Triple Door.

Master of the West African ngoni, a forerunner of the banjo and guitar, Bassekou Kouyate has graced the recordings of countless Malian musicians, from Ali Farka Toure to Oumou Sangare. With his band Ngoni Ba, he released a power-packed masterpiece, I Speak Fula, on Seattle’s SubPop label.

An ancient traditional lute found throughout West Africa, the ngoni is the key instrument for the griot culture. Unlike the kora, whose history goes back only a few hundred years, the ngoni has been the main instrument in griot storytelling going back to the 13th century during the days of Soundiata Keita, the founder of the Mali Empire. The repertoire Kouyate plays is Bambara music from the region of Segu. Bambara music is pentatonic in nature and as close to the blues as you can get in Africa.

Kouyate was born in a village called Garana, almost 40 miles from Segu, in the remote
 countryside on 
the banks of the
 Niger River. He
 was raised in a
 traditional mu
sical 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 Kouyate was part of Diabate’s trio, and they recorded their first albums together, Songhai and Djelika.

In 1996, Kouyate married the singer Amy Sacko (the “Tina Turner of Mali”), and they have been in high demand for the traditional wedding parties that happen in the streets of Bamako. After many years of being a sideman to many musicians both in Mali and globally, Kouyate has now put together his own band, Ngoni Ba (“the big ngoni”), Mali’s first ngoni quartet.

Here is a link to the 2014 Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule

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Sunday night at Poncho Hall at Cornish College, The Earshot Jazz Festival presented the Kora Band. Drawing well-deserved attention far from its Portland/Seattle roots, this ensemble combines elements of jazz and West African music – pianist Andrew Oliver, kora player Kane Mathis, drummer Mark DiFlorio, trumpeter Chad McCullough, and bassist Brady Millard-Kish.

Here is a link to the Earshot Jazz Festival website  schedule for the rest of the Festival.

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Staff Benda Bilili

November 6th, 2012

On Saturday Oct 27th at Town Hall, Earshot Jazz Festival presented a special concert of the group Staff Benda Bilili
Led by vocalist Ricky Likabu, Staff Benda Bilili is a band whose mesmerizing music and extraordinary story have been making an impression worldwide. Four in the group are elderly paraplegics, polio survivors, who play from customized tricycles. This group of street musicians from Kinshasa, DR Congo, is Coco Ngambali, composer, vocals, guitar; Theo Nsituvuidi, vocals, guitar; Djunana Tanga-Suele, vocals; Zadis Mbulu Nzungu, vocals; Kabamba Kabose Kasungo, vocals; Paulin ‘Cavalier’ Kiara-Maigi, bass; Cubain Kabeya, drums, vocals; Randy Buda, percussion; and Roger Landu, vocals and principal soloist, on an electrified satonge, a one-stringed lute he built out of a tin can.

Staff Benda Bilili makes music that mixes the pulse of Congolese rumba with voices that conjure the crooners of Havana, the toasters of Kingston and American bluesmen. This extraordinary band of astonishing power and beauty has been dazzling audiences and media the world over, on record, on stage and on the big screen. – SH

Seattle photographer Michael Craft filled in for me at this concert and I am sorry I could not have been there to hear  and see it. The Festival ended on Nov 4th 2012 Earshot Jazz Festival 

The Kora Band at Tula’s

September 11th, 2010

The Kora Band in performance Thursday Sept 9th. They are pianist Andrew Oliver, Brady Millard-Kish, bass, Kane Mathis, kora and guitar, Chad McCullough, trumpet and Mark DiFlorio, drums and percussion.

On Thursday Sept 9th. The Kora Band celebrated the release of their newest album “Cascades” which covers a variety of West African pieces, modern repertoire from Congo and Cameroon, as well as originals by Mathis and Oliver with some subtle influences of jazz. Tula’s was crowded for the  first two sets and the music was a delightful mixture of African and Jazz sounds and rhythms. I look forward to hearing them again back at Tula’s as they play on the opening day of the Earshot Jazz Festival.

To learn more about the band go to the websites of the band:The Kora Band – www.koraband.com

and each of the musicians:

Chad McCullough – www.chadmccullough.com
Andrew Oliver – www.andrewoliver.net
Kane Mathis – www.kanemathis.com
Mark Diflorio – http://www.redsparkledrumstudio.com/
Brady Millard-Kish – http://www.seattlebass.com/

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Tinariwen in Concert: Wonou Walet Sidati, vocalist, Elaga Ag Hamid, guitar, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, guitar, Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni, guitar, Eyadou Ag Leche, bass, and Said Ag Ayad on drum.

All photographs on this website are Daniel Sheehan © 2010. All Rights Reserved. Please inquire for permission to use.

As promised, here are some more images from Tinariwen’s performance at the Triple Door last week.
An amazing group to see and hear in concert.

Tinariwen

February 23rd, 2010


Tinariwen at the Triple Door Tuesday night.

There was SRO, or rather there was dancing room only as everyone who could fit up under the stage was on their feet for almost the whole time they were playing. Earshot Jazz presented the Touareg group for 2 shows and they were both sold out.

‘Assouf’ is the name which the Touareg themselves often give Tinariwen’s guitar style. ‘Assouf’ means the blues, loneliness, heartache, longing, homesickness, the darkness beyond the campfire. From the sands of the Sahara in northern Mali comes the group Tinariwen playing concerts all over the world. Their music is soulful and makes you move your feet.

Earshot Jazz presented the Touareg group Tinariwen on stage at the Triple Door Tuesday night.

Both shows at the Triple Door were sold out  and there was SRO, or rather there was dancing room only as everyone who could fit up under the stage was on their feet for almost the whole time they were playing.  ‘Assouf’ is the name which the Touareg themselves often give Tinariwen’s guitar style. ‘Assouf’ means the blues, loneliness, heartache, longing, homesickness, the darkness beyond the campfire. From the sands of the Sahara in northern Mali comes the group Tinariwen playing concerts all over the world. Their music is soulful and makes you move your feet.

They were a big hit again in Seattle. I just got back from their concert and I will post some more photos from their performance in a few days.

All photographs on this website are by Daniel Sheehan © 2010. All Rights Reserved. Please inquire for permission to use.

Here are the additional photos from last nights wonderful performance at the Triple Door by Habib Koite & Bamada, Africa’s hardest working and tightest band. If you missed them last night, be sure and try to catch them the next time they come to town. Presented by KEXP
Habib Koité has adopted his own highly individual style which is both infused with the traditions of his country and very much in tune with his times.

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While many African performers have chosen to try to conquer Europe and North America by incorporating western sounds into their music and others are striving to perpetuate traditional music in a much more rigorous way, Habib Koité has adopted his own highly individual style which is both infused with the traditions of his country and very much in tune with his times.

During a career which has produced a total of three albums and countless concerts across the world, Habib Koité has been able to develop his own very distinctive approach to guitar playing in which the influences of his own country can be discerned as well as other musical styles such as blues or even the occasional touches of Cuban or flamenco sounds. You can also find in his music, samples of the rich range of traditional Mali instruments such as the balafon, tamani or n’goni in his music. Musical arrangements that set off his warmhearted vocals to perfection. But it is above all on stage that this virtuoso guitar, who descends from a long line of griots, is revealed.

Photograph by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan, a photojournalist specializing in jazz photography, photojournalism and portrait photography for publications and corporations. He is also a Seattle wedding photographer with an unobtrusive, story-telling approach creating award winning wedding photojournalism among Seattle wedding photographers.

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Habib Koite & Bamada

April 1st, 2009

habib_koite_12 Africa’s hardest working and tightest band performed tonight at the Triple door and they were fantastic! They had the sold out house at the first show eating out of their hand. Habib Koité has adopted his own highly individual style which is both infused with the traditions of his country and very much in tune with his times. More to come in the next post.

Photograph by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan, a photojournalist specializing in jazz photography, photojournalism and portrait photography for publications and corporations. He is also a Seattle wedding photographer with an unobtrusive, story-telling approach creating award winning wedding photojournalism among Seattle wedding photographers.

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Toumani Diabaté

November 10th, 2008

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Toumani Diabaté Sunday, November 9, Triple Door

And so we went to the Triple Door tonight for the final concert of the 2008 Earshot Jazz Festival and oh what a concert it was. Toumani Diabaté put on an ethereal performance sending the packed SRO house way out to another star system. Earhot Jazz Director John Gilbreath said later that he had never seen the Triple Door when it was so packed and yet so quiet. Everyone fell under the spell of Toumani and his magical kora. Near the end of the performance he stopped and thanked everyone and begged John to bring him back to Seattle yet again. Then he explained how to play a kora: its easy he said and not as hard as a piano. You just use four fingers – one thumb for bass, one for melody and two index fingers to improvise. “If you can play one song you are a master” he explained.

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The kora, a 21-string harp from West Africa, may strike American ears as an uncanny ancestor of a wide range of popular music from this continent. Toumani Diabaté, a virtuoso from Bamako, Mali, has done as much as any player of the instrument to bring its delights to audiences around the world.

Diabaté is from a long line of Malian griots – traditional bearers and interpreters of the country’s ancient court music and history. In fact, he can trace his family’s involvement in music back 71 generations.

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Diabaté’s the Best Of Toumani Diabaté stands out from his many other albums as the first internationally-released compilation of music by an individual kora player. In recent years he has collaborated with the likes of Taj Mahal, Peter Gabriel, Ballake Sissoko, Salif Keita, and Ali Farka Toure. With Farka Toure, he recorded a set of duets, In the Heart of the Moon, which won the Grammy for Best Traditional World Music Album in 2005.

Diabaté aims to open up the kora tradition to a wide variety of influences. He counts, among his inspirations, many kinds of music, including icons of American music such as Elvis, James Brown, and Louis Armstrong to name but a few.

Photographs by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan, a photojournalist specializing in portrait photography,  jazz photography, and photojournalism  for publications and corporations and a Seattle wedding photographer with an unobtrusive, story-telling approach creating award winning Seattle wedding photography.


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Cyro Baptista

November 8th, 2008

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Cyro Baptista’s Banquet of the Spirits Friday, November 7, Triple Door

Baptista’s mastery of the percussion of his native Brazil has propelled him to international renown. He has been a US resident for almost 30 years, but seems to spend much of his time drumming his way around the world with a host of leaders and outfits – from Yo-Yo Ma’s Brazil Project, to Trey Anastasio’s Band, to John Zorn’s Electric Masada, to Herbie Hancock’s Grammy award winning Gershwin’s World, to Sting, to Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints.
But that’s just a taste of the career of this surpassing percussionist. He has been much praised and often honored with critics and readers awards in many varieties of music. In his own projects, including the percussion and dance ensemble, Beat the Donkey, Baptista exalts in percussion styles and instruments from around the world in performances that are thrilling, surprising, and dazzling.
That will be the case, here, too, as he presents his new quartet, featuring keyboardist Brian Marsella, bassist and oud player Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz, and drummer Tim Keiper.

Click here for the complete schedule for the rest of the upcoming shows at the 2008 Earshot Jazz Festival

Photographs by Seattle photographer Daniel Sheehan, a photojournalist specializing in portrait photography, jazz photography, and photojournalism for publications and corporations and a Seattle wedding photographer with an unobtrusive, story-telling approach creating award winning Seattle wedding photography.


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