By stepping up and taking center stage with the banjo's ancestor, the ngoni, Mali griot Bassekou Kouyate introduced a new generation to an instrument previously relegated to the background. Ngoni Ba includes four ngonis of different sizes. The players deploy pentatonic riffs over calabash beats and the bandleader's wife, Amy Sacko, sings songs of empire, praise, and circumcision. The indie-rock hippies at Sub Pop kicked off their new international-music label Next Ambiance with the band's I Speak Fula.
Fri., March 26, 10 p.m., 2010