Jali Bakary Konteh & the Minyanta Band

UK / Gambia

Forward-facing kora-led collaboration

Very few musical instruments are as geographically resonant as the kora. Hear just a few flickering notes from its strings and you’re transported to Mali, Senegalor Gambia. Kora player Jali Bakary Konteh hails from the latter –his father was the late, great Dembo Konte, a man who, with his musical partner Kausu Kouyate, was one of the first to bring the kora to WOMAD’s stages in the 1980s. While Dembo was a very traditional player, his son is keen to move the kora forward, to create a new history for the instrument. And that explains his hook-up with the Minyanta Band, the project of bassist/producer Huw Bennett that’s based around recordings he made with Mandinkag riots in West Africa. It’s also has a live incarnation, a full band shooting a current of electricity through that irresistible acoustic sound. And it’s a well-fitting marriage of ancient and modern. After all, in order to write the future, you have to listen to the past.