Well it’s been while since there was anything Bristol-related up here, but you should know about this new recording project featuring Dave Mowat and friends, and kora player Moussa Kouyate. Over to Dave:
Kora-player Moussa, 63, has lived in Bath and Bristol for about twenty years following successes on the world music stages such as Glastonbury London South Bank and Edinburgh festivals. But he’s not made an album for 16 years. Now he’s partnered with the director of Bristol European Jazz Ensemble David Mowat and with concert harpist Emmy Broughton to make a new album, fusing West African, roots and jazz music.
As he’s made friends with the young skateboarders and graffiti artists of his local Dame Emily Park where he hangs out, the band rehearsals are based there. “He’s like a godfather to us” says Jack Jones, one of the leaders of the new youth-focussed social enterprise known as The Sanctuary. “It’s a place of peace and refuge” he adds. Moussa has his second home here as Jack’s values chimes with his. “The job of the griot is to unite people, to get them together at concerts. The sound of the kora [a kind of harp] makes the people peaceful and happy”.
Harpist Emmy ads “I’ve known Moussa for years – he inspired my adult solo career as an experimental harpist by introducing me to his style of playing in my first house I moved to in Bristol. And he has always been a true friend and guide for my brother, and seemingly everyone he comes across. I feel honoured to support him in expressing his music because he is such a caring presence in the community”.
Arts Council England were happy to fund this project, which is to make an album and continues the international music-making of BEJE, who’d worked with Palestinian Dutch and South Korean musicians to date. In the band with David on trumpet and Emmy on harp are Italians Paolo Adamo on drums and Federico Leonori on double bass.
There’ll be a spoken-word artist too, expressing what it means for Moussa to be a griot, not to the ancient Malian kings as was his tradition, but to the citizens of Bristol, at street-level. We hope the performance poet, still to be chosen, will come from the refugee community in Bristol ‘City of Sanctuary’. Look out also for a project concert as part of the Bristol Refugee Festival on June27th.
As Moussa delves deep into his memory for tunes and the non-traditional band respond with improvisation, it’s not clear exactly what the album, to be recorded in July, will sound like. If you like the idea and want to help the project you can pre-order an album here: (goes live 7am on 28/4/21)