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Issa Bagayogo review/Rhodes question.


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Saw Malian singer/N'goni player Issa Bagayogo at the Portland Zoo summer concert series Wed. night, excellent show. Issa and French producer Yves Wernert have made a number of really great albums that put Bagayogo's traditional songs into very tasteful techno/downtempo settings, I normally cringe at the African music meets electronica stuff that I hear, but Bagaygo's records are really cool, largely due to Wernert 's very tasteful production. The sound at the show was excellent, and at the end of the first set I found out why: Yves Wernert was running the live sound! How often do you get to hear a concert where the producer who defined the sound of the albums is at the desk? Anyway, it proved to me that the bad sound we normally associate with concerts is not necessarily a given, this was a typical large PA, and it sounded excellent, and the volume was perfect for the space, full and rich but I didn't need earplugs.


The band was Bagayogo on n'goni (Malian harp, I think it has 13 strings) and vocals, a percussionist, a DJ who provided beats and backing tracks, and a keyboardist playing a Rhodes suitcase 88. I probably would have rather seen a full band, or at least a rhythm section, but Issa's music is built around programmed beats, and there was a lot of interplay between the live players. The keyboardist especially acted as a second lead voice, playing jazzy voicings and melodic counterpoint throughout the show, as well as a few stellar solos. Plus, his sound was great, really warm, occasionally adding a touch of distortion. It seemd like a really cool gig, it felt like he got to improvise a lot, and he filled the space very tastefully. It was a great show, and they are only doing 4 dates in North America (Seattle, Colorado Springs and Edmonton CA).


The Rhodes had it's lid off and I've noticed a lot of classic fusion guys did that when playing live, I've seen pix of Corea, Hancock and Hammer at the very least. I've always kind of wondered why, when I try it with my Rhodes, I don't hear any difference.

Turn up the speaker

Hop, flop, squawk

It's a keeper

-Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream for Crow

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