Primary Instrument: Percussion
A Griot or Jali is a West African Poet, praise singer, and wandering musician, considered a repository of oral tradition.
The Griot in Mande society was as a historian, advisor, arbitrator, praise singer, and storyteller. Essentially, these musicians were walking history books, perserving their ancient stories and traditions through song. Their inherited tradition was passed down through generations. Their name, Jeli, means Blood in the Manika language. They were said to have deep connections to spiritual, social, or political powers as music is associated as such. Speech is also said to have power as it can recreate history and relationships.
The Mali Empire, at its height in the middle of the fourteenth century, was founded by Sundiata Keita, whose exploits remain celebrated in Mali even today. In the Epic of Sundiata, King Naré Maghann Konaté offered his son Sundiata a griot, Balla Fasséké, to advise him in his reign. Balla Fasséké is thus considered the first griot and the founder of the Kouyaté line of griots that exists to this day.
Baye Kouyaté is a direct descendant of that lineage. He is one of those old souls: wise and blessed with a culturally diverse perspective, bubbling over with natural enthusiasm and creative energies that strongly suggest he's been this way before; someone deeply in touch with the spiritual essences. His performances are a journey through a world of highly complex polyrhythms fusing traditional sounds of Mali with influences such as jazz, reggae, and latin grooves, all delivered by a high spirited crew of musicians.
Awards:Finalist of the 8th Annual Independent Music Awards
Here the ensemble explored the hypnotic rhythms of West Africa, with lively contributions from two Malian artists: Yacouba Sissoko, playing the kora (a West African harp-lute), and Baye Kouyate, on talking drums.
The dynamic multicultural set included “Bambougoudji,” a West African song; the premiere of Mr. Sissoko’s “Siya”; and the premiere of “Couleurs du Marché” (“Colors of the Market”), written by Patrick Derivaz, the artistic director of Musique Sans Frontières, who played electric bass. The ensemble also included Rubin Kodheli on electric cello and the percussionist Benny Koonyevsky.
Global Rhythm Magazine As the night wears on, Baye continues to play the ... As the night wears on, Baye continues to play the talking drum, a 10-inch long drum that produces distinctive undulating sounds, which seems to literally communicate with him. Throwing his head back, Baye appears to enter an almost trance-like state as a wide smile swallows his face...
Creative Loafing Baye's music is an intoxicating, often hypnotic, u... Baye's music is an intoxicating, often hypnotic, update of traditional Malian styles. The undulating grooves, which at times build to a measured ferocity, are driven by hand percussion and fortified by Western trap drums. Deep electric bass firms up the bedrock. Gentle melodies are propelled by intertwined African instruments: the kora, made of gourd and strings, which emits cascades of notes, and the balofon, played with padded mallets and sounding like a watery marimba. On certain songs, Baye sings folk lyrics in an airy voice. It's his talking drum that adds the zest. A fixture in West Africa, the instrument, which comes in several sizes, has a wooden, hourglass body, goat-skin heads on each end and dozens of strings that stretch the length of the drum on the outside. The player positions it in the armpit and strikes the head with a curved stick and fingers. By squeezing the strings with his or her arm, a player can change the drum's pitch, giving it a swooping sound, making it talk. In the hands of a master like Baye, the talking drum produces a cauldron of polyrhythms laced with crude melodies. The sound is primal, elemental, exciting.
Baye Kouyate Live at Zebulon
Tracks: Africa; Alpha Magui; Danama; Kambe; Hommage Ali Farka Toure; Aniche; Kemin Bourama; Cassamadi Casa; Tamadew; One Day.
Personnel: Baye Kouyate: talking drum. Leni Stern: guitar. Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz: bass. Tim Keiper: drumkit. Yacouba Sissoko: kora. Samba Guisse: djembe.
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