Habib Koite & Bamada | Martyrs' | International | Chicago Reader

Habib Koite & Bamada Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard

When: Mon., Aug. 25, 8 p.m. 2008

On last year’s superb Afriki (Cumbancha), Malian singer and guitarist Habib Koite eases back on the Western rock and pop stylings that in the past have compromised the hypnotizing beauty of his basically traditional music. Now when a tight horn section led by Pee Wee Ellis turns up on a number like “Africa,” it meshes perfectly with the circular balafon licks and insinuating acoustic-guitar arpeggios, reinforcing the song’s essence rather than distracting from it. Koite’s tender melodies center the record; the mostly Bambara-­language lyrics entreat Africans to take responsibility for solving the continent’s problems and to embrace native traditions as a way of bringing together its peoples. Koite is a feverish live performer, and I’m sure the chill, meditative vibe of the album will give way to something more visceral onstage. —Peter Margasak

Price: $25

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