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While Malian musician Bassekou Kouyate and his group Ngoni Ba recorded their latest album, Jama Ko, in a Bamako studio, the nation was immersed in turmoil: The military was overthrowing the president, and Islamic fundamentalists were imposing sharia law in the north. Inspired and affected by the political disorder, Kouyate created an energetic album incorporating the plucked, high-pitched strings of his lute-like ngoni, parable-esque lyrics, and the addition of new band members, including his wife and children. Although Kouyate’s ngoni frequently dominates the sound (and is made louder by the use of a wah-wah pedal), the album relies on the talents of other group members: Amy Sacko, Kouyate’s wife, alternates between soothing and impassioned vocals on the title track, reinforcing its message of interfaith gathering and understanding. Conditions are calming in Mali now, but the group’s message of tolerance and the sonic force of its four ngonis and two percussion instruments will still resonate when they visit D.C.
Bassekou Kouyate performs at 8 p.m. at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. $30. (202) 399-7993. atlasarts.org.