Working at Afropop as an intern, you hear a lot of good music. It's not really fair, actually--New York City in the summertime is downright teeming with excellent music from around the globe. Not to mention that when in the office, you are (willingly [me] or unwillingly [Jay the plumber]) subject to a never-ending deluge of mbira plunking, Afrobeat polyrhythms, and Señor Coconut...noises. So naturally, as someone who loves music and has a job working for a music-centered organization, I experienced an unfair amount of world-class music over the summer.
But, to get to the point, the single most indelible musical snapshot from the entire summer would have to have been during Bassekou Kouyate's performace at Central Park SummerStage. The defining moment, for me, was near the beginning of his set when all of the ngonis first clicked together. Aural ecstasy.
There's something about those simple wooden instruments...the sounds that emerge are purely transcendent and unlike anything else you have ever heard. And the joy he and his band emanated while playing was inspiring and added to the unique feeling of the performance. An unparalleled visual and musical experience.
An honorable mention should be given to Konono No. 1--equally astounding sound-to-instrument correspondence, and equally flooring ingenuity. So much deep, rich musicality from such humble instruments, for both Bassekou and Konono.
This summer was an experience unlike any other. I want to thank everyone involved at Afropop, and I look forward to more musical adventures (now from afar) with Afropop.
Photos and text by Owen.