Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Track of the Week

Ballaké Sissoko – Nalesonko (live)

The kora (or cora) is a beautiful and elegant instrument in sound and appearance. Traditionally it is a 21-string harp but formed with a resonator and neck much like a guitar. The resonator is formed from half of a large calabash vegetable covered in a cow skin with the neck made of a long piece of hard wood. They are played extensively across West Africa and Ballaké Sissoko is one of the best surely only ranking second to the “uncontested star” of the kora Toumani Diabaté – who some may remember had the honour of being our first Mali Track of the Week back in July.

Sissoko became world famous with his magical – borderline legendary – collaboration “Chamber Music” created with French cellist Vincent Segal. Two years on the magic has not diminished and this week’s track “Nalesonko” comes from Sissoko’s 2013 album “At Peace”. Segal is ever present in this new venture but takes up a different role as discussed in this review for NPR music. Where Segal plays more of an overseeing role this time Sissoko launches in, centre-stage, showing off the full delights of the kora throughout.

This week’s track is one of those that has only one flaw – it ends. Enjoy listening and watching this one.


Ballaké Sissoko – Natesonko

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *