“Combining passionate originality and fierce authenticity, Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba take West African dance music into new territory—literally, the North Carolina Piedmont. That’s where Cissokho, a griot born to a family of professional musicians in Senegal, makes his transplanted home.
The repertoire is pure Manding, the centuries-old musical culture of Cissokho’s ancestors. It’s reformulated with modernizing impulses in a rock band format: Agile basslines interweave with the melodic twins of kora and electric guitar, undergirded by an explosive rhythm section of djembe and trapset drums. Kora master Cissokho is also the group’s vocal frontman. His electrifying voice propels songs old and new about timeless themes of mythology, migration and universal love. In fact, “universal love” is a rough translation of “Kaira Ba,” a promise the band communicates live.The kora itself, a jumbo spike-lute with skin-and-gourd resonator, is handed down within families in West Africa. There, it represents a hereditary musical tradition of moral and spiritual gravitas. Cissokho maintains this heritage while walking his own path, playing with youthful fire and acrobatic effect. His North Carolina collaborators—Will Ridenour, Austin McCall, John Westmoreland and Jonathan Henderson—are diversely trained musicians who share a longtime love of African and African-based music.
As a result, Kaira Ba has enjoyed a meteoric rise in its first two years of existence. In 2012, the band recorded Resonance, a shimmering studio album that captures all the drive and intensity of its live performances. The band has quickly become a hot ticket at festivals, museums and music venues across the Eastern U.S., touring as far afield as New York City and Senegal. Wherever they play, Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba summon audiences to the dancefloor with a bonanza of euphoric West African grooves, all inflected with funk, soul, rock and music of the Black Diaspora”. ⎯Sylvia Pfeiffenberger