Skip to main content

West African in NYC: Benyoro CD Release, NYC & California Live Dates June & July 2014

From a media release:

Benyoro’s Moveable, Trans-Diasporic Meeting Place of West African Music
CD Release July 8, 2014
Live dates June 20 - July 12, 2014

• Check out the Tour Info at the bottom of this post

Benyoro: the band is, quite literally, a meeting place. Its name, taken from Mali’s Bamana language, means precisely that.

That the six-piece group would come together in NYC seems almost inevitable. The city is the polyglot home to a thousand different languages and dialects, where African music devotees can find their kindred spirits in recent émigrés from the continent. Where South African jit can nuzzle up next to merengue and the blues can sit next to Kenyan benga. And as the band shows on its debut album, Benyoro (July 8, 2014), it’s a place where the Mandé music of West Africa can thrive.

“What we really do is play praise music,” explains guitarist and ngoni lute player Sam Dickey. “We’ve just sped it up a little; it brings the music into a more dance-oriented context. Toumani Diabaté and his Symmetric Orchestra have been major innovators in this regard.”

And Dickey knows very well how Diabaté, the great virtuoso of the 21-string kora harp, works. The California native, who spent part of his childhood in Burkina Faso, lived and studied with Diabaté in Mali – as well as taking lessons from the legendary Djelimady Tounkara of the Super Rail Band – and sat in every week at Symmetric Orchestra performances.

Mandé music, specifically the music of the Maninka and Bamana people, is the soul of Benyoro, fully evident on tracks like “Kaira,” where the six-piece band storms a groove behind the guest vocals of Bébé Camara, or the sinuous “Haidara Sirifo,” which brings in singer Tapani Sissoko, but the sound reaches across Africa.

“Listen to the first track, ‘An Sera,’” suggest Benyoro’s kora player, Yacouba Sissoko. “We make the connection with Congolese soukous there. That’s natural – soukous is hugely popular all over the continent, it’s informed every type of African music. But Africa is such a big continent, with so many different cultures, and we try to make music for all Africa, to put the different sounds together and create a new color. ”

Born in Kita, Mali, Sissoko grew up in a jeli family, the hereditary caste of musicians and historians often referred to as griots in the West. He began taking lessons on his instrument from his grandfather when he was nine. Since moving to New York in 1998, he’s developed a remarkable career, playing with superstars as diverse as Paul Simon, Regina Carter, and Baaba Maal.

And Yacouba Sissoko was exactly who Dickey wanted for Benyoro when he began putting the band together in 2011.

“When I first moved here I was playing in a lot of different bands,” Dickey recalls. “But I knew I wanted to play this music in a specific way with a certain set of musicians I’d met.”

They also included Martinique-born bassist Patrice Blanchard, who’s worked with Angelique Kidjo and downtown jazzman Bobby Previte, drummer Andy Algire, Luke Quaranta on percussion and talking drummer Idrissa Koné. Rehearsing together, they knew they had that special spark, and that the African-rooted music they were making could move listeners of all backgrounds.

“Our philosophy is to walk a line between the traditional and the modern,” explains Dickey. “We’re not a fusion band; we try to let things come together organically. So many people over here see African music as this exotic ‘other,’ an imaginary Africa, but we want to show that it can exist in a really down-to-earth, concrete way in New York.”

The album is heavily weighted toward traditional Mandé songs, like the classic “Kulanjan,” but they sit with perfect ease next to three original compositions, and everything is given the Benyoro treatment.

“We started out just playing traditional music, then we worked up some of our own material. A few of the arrangements pay tribute to Toumani in their style. The combination of meditative traditional melodies with upbeat rhythms is something we really appreciate.”

That joy booms out of the speakers. For musicians and listeners, Benyoro is indeed a meeting place. To celebrate the release of the album, Benyoro will be taking their crossroads music on tour in California, and an appearance later this year at the Bear Creek Festival, one of the staples of the jam band scene.

Make ready for the movable meeting place of Benyoro.

Photo Credit: Deneka Peniston

Tour Info:

June 20, 2014 Fri New Haven, CT @International Festival of Arts and Ideas
June 28, 2014 Sat New York, NY @Meridian 23
July 5, 2014 Sat Big Sur, CA @Esalen Institute
July 6, 2014 Sun Los Angeles, CA @The Mint
July 10, 2014 Thu Berkeley, CA @Ashkenaz
July 11-12, 2014 Fri-Sat Grass Valley, CA @California WorldFest


Popular posts from this blog

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company Spring 2013 Toronto Performances

From a media release:

The new season brings
Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company
to new heights and new audiences

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
April 25-28, 2013 - Annual Toronto Season - World Premiere of Portales

TORONTO : Following on the heels of Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company's (EESDC) 30th anniversary year where its production Aguas/Waters was named one of the top five dance shows of 2012 by NOW Magazine, the early months of 2013 are full of excitement and possibility for Esmeralda and the company, which brings the finest flamenco and Spanish Classical Dance to Toronto stages.

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
Company dancers Esmeralda Enrique and Paloma Cortés perform Spanish Classical dance with the celebrated Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir for A Night in Madrid featuring the Iberian flavoured music of composer Luigi Boccherini who made his home in Spain. His work is infused with the sounds of Spanish and gypsy folk music.

March 20-24 …

NU MUSES 2017 Luxurious Fine Art Nude Calendar Now Available

From a media release:

NU MUSES 2017 Luxurious Fine Art Nude Calendar Now Available
24 Fine Art Prints from Celebrated Photographer David Bellemere Available In Three Limited Edition NU MUSES 2017 Calendar Packages

“What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment” -Michelangelo

Buy the collections
Check them out at Art Basel, Miami - December 1-4, 2016

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – November 22nd, 2016 – NU MUSES, the luxurious 2017 fine art nude calendar, is now available to purchase in three unique limited edition collectors packages. Drawing inspiration from the Pirelli calendar of the 1970s, NU MUSES is set to celebrate the forgotten art of the classic nude and capture the elegance and romance of the female form.

The NU MUSES limited edition art piece is a sublime collectable calendar, featuring nude photographs of 12 of the world’s most stunning models, captured by famed photographer David…

Guitar Rock | Happy Freuds - Echo Of Sounds Independent: May 31, 2019

Guitar Rock
Happy Freuds - Echo Of Sounds
Independent: May 31, 2019
Stream/Buy on Bandcamp
Stream it on Spotify

With tight musicians and intriguing lyrics, Happy Freuds delivers high energy guitar rock with stylistic flair on Echo Of Sounds, their debut release. Produced with a minimum of overdubs or fixes, the album consists of a mix of original material, rearrangements of works from others and selected, less known, classic rock.

A kinetic rhythm section is the bones of the music, offering interesting patterns that augment sometimes unexpected harmonic changes. It's brainy rock, in other words, meant for music lovers who can appreciate the quality. Teo's vocals are raspy and expressive, growly when necessary - perfect for the musical mode. Teo also covers lead guitar, adapt at ear worm leads, with a tone that can be clean or dirty as required

Their sound ranges from straight up hard rock in tracks like The Mountain to the pop-flavoured acoustic Background Noise and folky To …