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Bassekou Kouyate

Bassekou was born in a remote Malian village called Garana which is almost 40 miles from Segu, near the Niger River. While growing up he was surrounded by traditional music - from griot family his mother was a praise singer and his father and brothers were ngoni players.
At the age of 19 Bassekou moved to Bamako. Bassekou became an ambassador of the ngoni by changing the accepted style of playing it. This is how the story goes: one day he was playing his ngoni with members of the Rail Band at Bamako's famous train station and everybody was stunned when he stood up and went to the front of the stage with his ngoni - normally it is to be played while sitting at the back.
In Bamako Bassekou met Toumani Diabate and joined Toumani’s Symmetric trio alongside Keletigui Diabate. They recorded many albums together, including‘Songhai’ and ‘Djelika’. Bassekou was also involved in Toumani Diabate’s ‘Kulanjan’ project which featured Taj Mahal. Bassekou had met Taj Mahal when he was invited to a Banjo festival in USA. The similarities between the banjo and the ngoni are noteworthy and in all likelihood they are historically linked from the time of slavery. Bassekou was one of the key musicians on Ali Farka Toure’s posthumous album Savane (2006) and also toured with him. As a tribute Bassekou recorded the track ‘Lament for Ali Farka’ on his first solo album Segu Blue (2007). Bassekou has collaborated with Ry Cooder, Bela Fleck, Damon Albarn, Youssou N'Dour (on his album Rokku Mi Rokka) and Dee Dee Bridgewater (on her album Red Earth).