November 2, 2011

African musician to play banjo-like instrument in concert at Meany

Grammy-nominated Bassekou Kouyate,a virtuoso picker and musical visionary whose work blurs the lines between West African and American roots music will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12 in Meany Hall.

Bassekou Kouyate and his group play Meany Nov. 12.

Bassekou Kouyate and his group play Meany Nov. 12.

Bassekou has jammed with Bonnie Raitt and Bono, and won praise from Eric Clapton. Hes also dug into blues and country music with Taj Mahal and created freewheeling improvisations with banjo maverick Bela Fleck. Bassekous instrument, the ngoni, is a “spike lute” and an ancestor of the banjo, sharing its taut-skinned drum body, percussive attack, and varied picking techniques.

Since 2005, Bassekou has led Ngoni Ba, the first-ever group built around not one but four ngonis — all played by members of his family. The groups second CD, I Speak Fula, was the first recording to be released on Sub Pop’s latest imprint, Next Ambiance, a world music label founded by Seattle’s Jon Kertzer, former host of KEXPs Best Ambiance Radio show, and Sub Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman.

Tickets for the concert are $30 ($20 for students). Tickets may be purchased by phone at 206-543-4880, online, or in person at the UW Arts Ticket Office.