Habib Koite


Koite comes from a musical family and developed his unique guitar style by imitating the sound of his mother’s kamele n’goni, an instrument that sounds like a bass/guitar/banjo/thumb-piano hybrid. His gently rhythmic music has a mellow acoustic vibe that incorporates sounds from all over Mali and West Africa, marked by his gruff, honeyed tenor the propulsive backing of his band Bamada. On “Fimani,” Koite’s guitar sounds like a kora (African harp) playing flamenco jazz, while blues harmonica and balafon dance around the rhythms of a talking drum. On the title tune, Koite uses subtle horn charts, arranged by jazzman Pee Wee Ellis, to drop a bit of Afro-beat into the mix and he gets back to basics on “Nta Dima,” a tune driven by multilayered hand percussion and forceful call-and-response vocals.