Our agent Sarah Coxson was enjoying an African music festival in Bethesda, North Wales recently when she bumped into the kora player who’d been playing, brilliantly, with N’famady Kouyaté. A rare chance to use her very limited few words in Mandinka, she greeted him. He responded and asked whether she had been to Gambia. The conversation led to her explaining her friendship with the late Dembo Konte, a well-respected kora player from Brikama, who used to regularly tour with his partner Kausu Kuyateh in the 80s and early 90s in the UK and beyond. Many of you will remember their dazzling kora performances. “That’s my dad!,” said Jali Bakary Konteh! Both Jali Bakary and Sarah were quite emotional about the link; he would have been one of the children playing in the compound on her music-based visits to Brikama many moons ago.
The meeting felt serendipitous, and we’re delighted that ABM will now be representing this talented musician. Grandson and son, respectively, of the legendary Gambian kora players Alhaji Bai Konte (who helped to bring kora music to the wider world with his iconic album Kora Melodies From the Republic of the Gambia, West Africa in 1973) and Dembo Konte, London-based Jali Bakary is the latest torchbearer for his family’s kora legacy on the world stage. Like his father and grandfather before him, Jali Bakary brings his own personal touch and innovations to traditional songs with unique melodic and rhythmic arrangements. A hugely versatile musician, he regularly performs solo, in a duo and trio, as well as with his own band, Minyanta. (He is also in the 13- piece collective Balimaya Project who fuse West-African folk music and jazz.) Jali Bakary will soon be releasing his 2nd solo album.
He has performed extensively throughout West and North Africa, as well as in the UK and the rest of Europe (WOMAD, Roskilde Festival, The Barbican).