You don’t pair the greatest young harpist in Wales with one of the most innovative kora players from West Africa for the purposes of relaxation. Their music is too deep, full-blooded and fragile for that.
In this pacey readable book, Andy Morgan tells the stories of two emblematic instruments, the kora and the Welsh harp, and how they fell into the hands of two great musicians, Seckou Keita and Catrin Finch.
It was only after he’d started living in Europe and having kids of his own, that Seckou Keita started to wonder about his father. “I was in that mood,” he says, “I just wanted to find out.”
No one is one hundred precent sure of how or when the kora came into being. Strangely, the first person to ever mention it was a Scotsman by the name of Mungo Park, who wrote about it in his Travels In the Interior Districts of Africa, published in 1799. Park was commissioned by Sir Joseph…
This was only a first taste but it was already golden, despite occasional rawness and hesitation, easily forgiven. With albums to be made, tours to be done and an inevitable maturing yet to come, the marriage of harp and kora seems blessed to be long, warm and fruitful.
It’s this gentle yet luminous spirituality that makes Cheikh Lo’s music so unique, injecting its boundary-busting mix of Cuban, Congolese, Senegalese mbalax and international pop flavours with a tender fire that banishes sentimentality or the empty pop formula. Lo is now 50 years old and philosophical about the time it’s taken him to deliver ‘Lamp Fall’, the ‘difficult’ third album, whose title is synonymous with the Baye Fall’s revered founder.