Glasgow Concert Hall
For me, the best parts of Celtic Connections are those where international artists get together with a talented & versatile bunch of Scottish performers to create something new, something beautiful, something strange! In 2023, I thought I’d check out Trio de Kali, a griot music group from Mali; whose guests included a couple of Louisiana Bluegrass boys – Dirk Powell & Chris Watson – whose rendition of Little Maggie was my favorite piece of the show; a couple of Scottish singers including nightingale-voiced, Gaelic singing Hebridean Jenna Cumming & the blossoming talents of Kim Carnie; alongside whistles, accordion & guitar from three Scottish musicians, including the evergreen Ross Ainslie. In the middle of it all was this smiling Senegalese guy on a well weird, string’d gonzo instrument out of which he manag’d to extract some proper ninja licks, like… it was amazing.
Unfortunately, in this post-Brexit blunderbuss bullet storm of nonsense, only two of the Trio were allow’d to visit the country after flying to Paris… singer, Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté, & ngoni player, Mamadou Kouyaté, the son of the n’goni master, Bassekou Kouyate. Now, the version of n’goni Mamadou was playing is a beautiful bass-like instrument, & as a bass-player myself I’m definitely up for learning it, especially after seeing Mamadou so easy, so laid back & so cool as he play’d his part.
The performance itself was a mixture of the spirit songs of each of our performers, but play’d by the ensemble, which gave the piece harmony, continuity & class. Its amazing how they’d all been plonk’d together in a room – perhaps even that day – & manag’d to pull of something so mesmerisingly sensual… these are talented musicians all round. In its thirty years, Celtic Connections is always pushing against the bounds of what is possible in music, & yet again I was left completely enamour’d with the final product.
Damian Beeson Bullen