Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sura Susso's little brother saves the day

Veg Box Cafe, Monday 17th September 2012

I'd just got the train back from Exeter in time for this, the second event organised by Angus Rorison's So What Promotions. Angus used to be the guitarist in now-defunct East Kent Afrobeat band Mr. Lovebucket.

I'd seen a poster for a Gambian kora player called Sura Susso, decided it was almost certainly worth going along and so bought a ticket weeks before. On arriving, we were handed printed explanations apologising for the fact that Sura was stuck in The Gambia dealing with some family business...we were offered the choice of a full refund, or sticking around to see the closest thing possible — his younger brother Suntou, also a griot in the same lineage of Kora masters! Unsurprisingly, I opted for the latter...

I later found out that Suntou is from Nottingham, that this was his first solo gig (although he gigs a lot with various bands). He came in silently, sat down, started playing...and almost had me weeping in the first thirty seconds, such an ancient, transporting sound. Somehow a lot of other string-instrument-based music I listen to suddenly made sense to me in a new way ("oh, this is what they're all trying to do..."). It's hard to stay in that kind of place too long, so after a while I'd adjusted to the musical environment, just floating along on some West African dreamtime currents...

One beautiful piece of music after another. I recognised some of the tunes, presumably standard fixtures in the Malian/Gambian kora repertoire. I realised while listening that, despite thinking of myself as someone who really likes kora music, I can only name about four players. But I'm sure somewhere on the various Toumani Diabaté and Dembo Konte recordings I've heard, versions of these tunes have appeared.

It's a tiny venue, only room for about forty people, so I felt very lucky to be there.

Oh, and there was a brief support set from a young singer-songwriter who played piano and accordion (I think his name was Oscar). He started with a Yann Tiersen song, then some originals (and quite original they were, too), finally a Brecht-inspired accordion song.


Blogger Unknown said...

Suntou's brilliant! You'll have to come along to Drum Camp 2018 and experience kora yourself!

5:29 PM  

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