Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cleveland Museum of Art: Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Bu

I wasn't feeling well on Friday (And I'm still not feeling all that well this morning) but when I met Rachel last night she surprised me with tickets for that evening's Viva and Gala performance of Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Bu.

I had read the description, which sounded interesting and had I been feeling better I probably would have suggested it myself. Unfortunately the program got off to an inauspicious start more than 15 minutes past the announced starting time, and never really recovered.

Well... I can't say "never" because the longer the music went on, the worse I felt. We snuck out after the fourth piece, and it is entirely possible that we missed some dramatic turn. This, though, was the first time I left the museum feeling markedly worse than when I got there -- usually the museum is one of my medative spot, somewhere to recenter myself.

The program notes contained no set list and advised that the program would be announced from the stage -- but this seemed to be a bit hit-or-miss and when they were announced I couldn't understand them well enough to make note.

There were strong moments -- by the third piece I had closed my eyes and got the sensation of a lively dance around a campfire, eventually morphing into something that would sound more at home in a '60s club -- perhaps most clearly embodying the promise of a blend of traditional instruments and modern sounds and techniques.

-- but overall the audio mix was unnaturally bass heavy, distorting the sound, and by the fourth piece causing every one of the steady beats to hurt more than the last.

Also interestingly -- I'm not sure if it was the performance, the audience, or just my state of mind -- it was one of the flattest and most two-dimensional. From my seat at the back of the Gartner Auditorium's balcony it seemed more as if I were watching a film than a live performance; there seemed to be no audience<->performer dynamic.

(With Bassekou Kouyate, lead ngoni & ngoni ba; Amy Sacko, lead & backing vocals; Fousseyni Kouyate, ngoin; Moussa Bah, ngoni bass; Alou Coulibaly calebasse; Moussa Sissoko, percussion; Moustafa Kouyate, ngoni)


1 comment:

  1. If you didn't see the Gregory Fulkerson concert this week with the first half of Bach unaccompanied violin music, definitely DON'T miss the concert next Wednesday. One of the best concerts I've ever seen. Get there early if you want a chair!