Habib Koite, one of Mali's most beloved singer/guitarists was in town last month to promote his new CD "Soô" on Contre Jour Records. He packed NYC's City Winery with a polyglot audience, which included a hefty West African compliment.
Koité is a seasoned performer, and everyone on stage was relaxed and having fun. The most striking aspect of the show was the use of an unusual hybrid instrument, having a 6-string guitar neck with a banjo head and resonator. While played in the Malian guitar style, it projected the singular tone of a banjo. (Not all that odd, considering the banjo is African in origin.) This is also one of the strong sonic additions to "Soô " which was recorded in Koite's home studio, and which I highly recommend.
I had brought along my intern Molly Marcotte for second camera, and I think I had almost as much fun seeing her reactions to this show as I had to the show itself. As the show progressed more and more people were throwing money at the musicians and coming up on stage to dance with the maestro. While this is typical, down home behavior for an African audience I think it entranced Molly, particularly the style and skill of the dancing. By the time the show ended, Koité was standing in a puddle of greenbacks and the stage was a party in which everyone had a chance to show off their moves. And some of those moves were very impressive!
The song I am presenting is called "Diarabi Niani" a song about the hazards of love, and it occurred fairly early on in the set. But you can definitely see the party is beginning!
For an informed review of the CD, background on the artist, sound samples and more, visit the ever excellent site Rootsworld.
For more of Michal's world music videos visit her site at InterMuse.