This was a facinating gig marrying the West African kora and balafon sounds with that of Israeli tinged six string bass viola and recorder in the impressive setting of Bury St. Edmunds’ St. John’s Church. Sefo Kanuteh from Gambia but now based in Norwich is from a musical family and has been playing kora since the age of seven, progressing up to the 21-stringed kora. Layil Barr from Israel is a classically trained musician who also performs with the Mi Luna ensemble, which she directs, playing Spanish-flavoured gypsy music.
Sefo Kanuteh and Layil Barr present a special concert collaboration blending African melodies with classical strings
Sefo is a virtuosic, soulful and authentic kora and balafon player. Sefo’s accomplishments are evident from his rich and impressive collaborations with some of Africa’s most successful artists such as; Baaba Maal and at the Théâtre National Daniel Sorano, Dakar Senegal. Sefo’s compositions are a melodic mixture of highly-valued traditional pieces, intertwined with styles from every continent, thus firmly planting Sefo as a contemporary Mande musician. His music sings of his life, family and freedom.
In this concert presentation Sefo performs a special collaboration with bass viola player Layil Barr. Layil’s playing has been described as ‘unforgettable’ and ‘stupendous’. Layil studied at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music, London where she was introduced to the viola by Alison Crum. During this time she made broadcasts for the Jerusalem Music Centre and won several awards including the America-Israel Cultural Foundation Award, the Dorothy Stone Award and the TCM Silver Medal for Early Music. As a soloist Layil has performed with various orchestras including The Royal Artillery Orchestra and The Israeli Chamber Orchestra.
This is a recent collaboration between Sefo and Layil and with just a handful of concerts together under their belts they are creating a buzz and playing beautiful shows. This one at St. John’s Church hosted by Music Worldwide had a lovely atmosphere and throughout the two sets they held the audience in rapt, silent attention as we watched and listened to a couple of masterful musicians bouncing off each other’s energy. The mutual respect and musical chemistry is obvious and just hearing the way they spoke about each other beforehand with words like “Phenomenal” being used to describe the other shows how inspiring they are finding this partnership.
Sefo Kanuteh and Layil Barr at St. John’s Church, Bury St. Edmunds
For the most part Sefo played kora but did take a solo turn on balafon, and Layil played mainly viol though at one stage she suddenly appeared at the back of the audience and delighted the audience as she walked up the aisle to rejoin Sefo at the stage area playing recorder as she did so.
These two have an air of consumate professionalism, looking and sounding the part and creating something truly beautiful, soulful and unique and looking full of dignity and elegance. A fascinating, special collaboration and a privelege to experience in a live setting.
Layil, listening during Sefo’s kora solo.
Big thanks to Sefo and Layil, Worldwide Music, and St. John’s Church.
The following evening I attended Peter Turrell’s acoustic session at Platform Twelve, whilst the previous night I was at Jurnet’s for the weekly Music House Acoustic-ish Session. When I arrived at Platform Twelve Peter informed me that he’d had three acts unfortunately pull out at short notice but he still put together an unforgettable night of music, Robyn entertaining us on grand piano as Peter set up. The night featured Peter T opening and closing as is the tradition, with great acts inbetween too, electric violin, some singalong covers at the piano, singer songwriter guitarists, and a stunning piece by the bar’s Chester. We even had a guest appearance from some of the swing dancers, fresh from Fashion Week at Open. A lovely end to the weekend.
The Jurnets line up, on this occasion curated by Andrew Taylor, included a rare solo set by Adam Clark of Nobodaddy, Clark & Zuppardi et al., plus Eastern Seaboard, Camille Davila with Pat Falgate and Bridget Holmes, and Zaramo who turned out to be a band playing some rousing Balkan and gyspy songs, featuring Sebastiana and Birgitta from Fire Doves. Adam was playing songs which he had penned and didn’t feel would entirely fit in with the duos he is involved in and I thought he was outstanding. Such heartfelt emotion powerfully delivered, with great restraint. He also found time for a Thin Lizzy cover. He wasn’t joking!
This was the first time Camille and Pat had played live with Bridget (of Playhouse) and it was an utter delight. These beautifully re-interpreted songs with the addition of flute and breathy backing vocals in a venue like Jurnets was gorgeous.
Of course it is always a pleasure to catch one of Eastern Seaboard’s seemingly infrequent live performances and they had such a typically clean and warm sound, how these guys are not better known is beyond me. Utterly beautiful songs expertly played.
Being a Friday night in Norwich there was still plenty happening so after Jurnets I headed to The Murderers but only caught a few songs by Mega Emotion who were headlining this month’s OddBox before finishing the night with some Honky Tonk at The Wildman with Borderline.
all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2017
Norwich: Music City, UK