Habib Koité; Monday, February 3, 2014
Monday, February 3, 2014
“First there was Hendrix, then Stevie Ray Vaughan, and now Habib.” – Bonnie Raitt
African guitarist Habib Koité is one of the most popular and eclectic musicians to ever come out of Mali. The self-taught performer has developed a personal sound derived from a number of ethnic and regional styles native to his home country. His unique approach to the guitar features the use of a pentatonic tuning played on open strings and includes a sprinkling of blues and flamenco influences. He calls it danssa doso, and it has caught the attention of notable admirers as diverse as Jackson Browne, Eric Bibb, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Bonnie Raitt will tell you: “With his combination of chops and soul, he’s the most amazing guitarist I’ve heard in years.”
Born in Senegal, in 1958, Habib Koité grew up in Mali where storytelling, singing and playing music was a daily fact of life. He is a descendent of “griots,” an African cultural tradition encompassing history, music, and ceremony. Although he had planned to become an engineer, Habib’s musical talent and facility on the guitar set him on an artistic path. He attended the National Institute for the Arts in Bamako, Mali, where he studied European classical music. After graduation, he stayed on as guitar teacher, living a duel life as a nightclub musician playing in cover bands. Playing in cover bands exposed Koité to a wide range of international popular music, including jazz and Latin music. Over time, he developed a sound that encompassed the traditional music of Mali from all of its regions, in all of its forms and rhythms.
With all the turmoil that has hit Mali since singing Koité’s last recording, it is no wonder that his February 25, 2014 release, titled Soô (which translates to Home in English), was recorded in his own home. But the civil strife in Mali was not what drove the musician to do his first home recording. The real reason simply was—just like many other established musicians—because he could. What started as a logistical decision paved the way for the album’s theme.
For a musician, on the road for long stretches, home becomes a dream, a vision. A place to treasure. But this home is much more than four walls. It’s a chance to draw together all the strands of his life – his music, his friends, his countrymen. A chance to breathe, to reflect, and to make some changes.
“On this album most of the songs are played by new musicians,” Koité explains. “I had the same band for 22 years, they played on all my albums and tours everywhere in the world. All my albums, I did with them.” It was time for fresh blood; only bassist Abdul Berthe remains from the old lineup. Even the engineers were new – one of them Koité’s twenty-year-old son.
Habib Koité’s Soô has had a complete makeover. Not only personnel changes, but songwriting and instrumentation. The drum kit has gone, replaced with a percussionist on calabash and djembe. And with this album, Koité has brought the banjo home to Africa. After playing with American bluesman Eric Bibb on 2012’s Brothers in Bamako and on tour, Koité adopted Bibb’s six-string instrument belonging to Eric Bibb.
DATE: Monday, February 3, 2014
VENUE: Kuumbwa Jazz Center
ADDRESS: 320 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
TIMES: 7:00 and PM
PRICE: $28/Adv $33/Door, No Comps; 9:00 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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