Habib Koité and Eric Bibb, Brothers in Bamako, Friday, February 15, 2013


Habib Koité and Eric Bibb
Brothers in Bamako
Friday, February 15, 2013
Kuumbwa Jazz
9 PM – ½ Price Night for Students

“[Koité’s] reputation as a guitar player has become almost mythical” – New York Times

This pairing of singers and guitarists recalls a musical meeting that might happen on a red dirt road somewhere between Bamako, Mali and Memphis, Tennessee. Mali native Habib Koité is the heir to an ancestral knowledge set to song that places him among the most influential voices of contemporary Africa and a true 20th century griot. Eric Bibb absorbed some of his prodigious talents from his family upbringing, as he is the godson of Paul Robeson and son of folkie Leon Bibb. Bibb is part of a new generation of blues-men without renouncing the legacy of folk and gospel.

Born in 1958, Koite hails from a noble lineage of griots Khassonké, an ethnic group from West African Mali.  He inherited his passion for music from his family, specifically his paternal grandfather, who played the “kamala ngoni,” a traditional four-stringed instrument associated with Malian tribal hunters.  As Habib puts it, “I watched my parents [play music], and it rubbed off on me.”  In 1991, Habib caught a break when he joined the legendary guitarist Toumani Diabaté on his album Shake the World (Sony). Later that year he went to Perpignan, France and stole the show at the Voxpole Festival, thus solidifying his role in the world music scene.

Bibb’s father, Leon, was originally a musical theatre singer who made a name for himself in the 1960s New York City folk scene.  Bibb’s uncle was jazz pianist and composer John Lewis, of the Modern Jazz Quartet and their family friends included Pete Seeger and actor/singer/activist Paul Robeson, who was also Bibb’s godfather. He was given his first steel-string acoustic guitar at age seven and recalls a childhood conversation with Bob Dylan, who, on the subject of guitar playing, advised the 11-year-old to “Keep it simple…forget all that fancy stuff.”  To this day Bibb plays directly, to the point, and for maximum impact.

Their recently released joint recording Brothers in Bamako features bubbling African guitars over lilting Americana/folk melodies.  Gentle percussion and bass sets the focus on the guitars, which delicately weave around each other, complete with vocal harmonies reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel, though not always sung in English.  The album hosts a batch of tunes that will surely lend itself to growth and expansion onstage, in the style of the folk traditions that both artists so strongly embody.

Habib Koité and Eric Bibb
Brothers in Bamako

DATE: Friday, February 15, 2013
PLACE: Kuumbwa Jazz Center
ADDRESS: 320 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
TIMES: 7:00 and 9:00 PM
PRICE: $28/Adv $31/Door, No Comps; 9 PM – ½ Price Night for Students
TICKETS: Logos Books & Records, 1117 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz (831) 427-5100 and online at: http://www.kuumbwajazz.org
MORE INFO: http://www.kuumbwajazz.org or 831-427-2227

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