Best Of 2008



Tampa Bay is not exactly a hotbed of world music, so a master of the talking drum is a welcome addition to our ranks. Baye Kouyaté (Bye Koo-yah-TAYE) is an honest-to-goodness griot from Mali in West Africa. His New York band has appeared at a number of festivals — including this year’s Tropical Heatwave — performing Kouyate’s bubbly, ear-friendly fusion of indigenous African and Western sounds. He melds the sonic cascades of kora and the bell-like resonance of the balafon with a bedrock of bass, drums and guitar. His talking drum, capable of swooping melodies, adds yet more zest. And he’s a more than able singer. Along with his celebratory music, Baye is a gracious and humble guy. And it can’t hurt that Tampa has a griot to call its own.

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