Kadialy Kouyate | Aado: Senegalese Kora Review
By Bea Willis
Kadialy Kouyate is a Senegal musician and kora player born into the great line of Kouyate Griot in Southern Senegal. Kouyate embraces the art of storytelling via the 21-stringed kora and draws on his heritage to inspire new, uplifting compositions. Since he arrived in the UK, he has enriched the London musical scene with his griot legacy by participating in countless musical projects. Such collaborations include working with Mumford & Sons and Baaba Maal, the multicultural fusion group Rafiki Jazz, Brazilian percussionist Adriano Adewale, and Venezuelan harpist Leonard Jacome. Kouyate is now releasing his album titled, Aado: Senegalese Kora. In Senegalese society, aado stands for moral customs and values. With this album, Kouyate’s enchanting music touches on those principles and reflects on Mandinka culture.
“Daña” opens with Kouyate playing a beautiful floating melody before establishing a pulse and performing a relaxing theme. His tone is bright and joyful as the kora’s strings vibrate with peace and elegance. Kouyate adds various counterpoints and variations to the melody to keep the song surging forward and fascinating. A beautiful piece of music that is relaxing and stimulating all at once.
“Thiosano” has a virtuosic opening section with Kouyate’s adept fingers plucking out multi-layered parts. The central theme has a rhythmic jaunt-stirring counterpoint between the bass and lead part. There is a plethora of melodies and variations that are created from the original material. The music may vary from traditional Senegalese music, but the textual and mechanical styles are still a part of the piece. Kouyate adapts different ways to enrich his music from around the world to produce an outcome that is stirring. The music is a complex, engaging soundscape of distinctive characters.
What would life be like without multiple cultures and individuals expressing themselves through different lenses of creative consciousness? Thankfully we will not know because an artist like Kouyate brings the richness of diversity to the world. Southern Senegal is the location and influence that are the stepping-off points for Kouyate’s musical vocabulary. Through his career, he has constructed a fresh and unambiguous approach to his musical palette to inspire new, uplifting compositions. The material contained on Aado: Senegalese Kora focuses on the importance of emphasizing melodic development through the songs. By so doing, it transforms Aado: Senegalese Kora into something enchanting and distinctive to Kouyate and his experiences.
Label: Naxos World Music
Release Date: September 24, 2021