Music: Tariku—inheritors of Mandingo Ambassadors local mantle—play West African music Fri., Nov. 22

Tariku—which includes members of The Mandingo Ambassadors, including guitarist Mamady Kouyate and vocalist Aaron Greenberg—play Best Video Performance Space Friday, Nov. 22. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $15.

The music of Tariku is driven by the graceful and ebullient interlocking polyrhythms for which West African music has become famous. This is the region musicologists credit with the roots of jazz, blues, funk, and hip hop, and that sonic DNA is clearly audible in the playing of percussionists Mangue Sylla and Matt Dean, and bassist Frank Brocklehurst. Coloring inside these percussive lines are the smooth, elegantly filigreed guitar lines of lead guitarist, Mamady “Jelike” Kouyate Also leader of The Mandingo Ambassadors), and the swirling yet unerringly precise cascades of young flute phenom Dylan McDonnell. Rounding out the melodic mix, Arouna Kouyate doubles on the kora- a 21 string calabash harp with a tone like the beautiful lovechild of a lute and an oud- and the vocals, whose flavor to Western ears might fall somewhere between Flamenco and the blues.

Our influences range from the almost operatic style of classical Mandè virtuosos like Kouyate Sory Kandia and Toumani Diabate, to the golden age West African jazz bands like Balla et Ses Balladins and Bembeya Jazz National. The result is a surprisingly versatile and accessible sound which can be both mild and sweet enough to serve as a unique alternative to a jazz combo or string quartet, or bold and lively enough to drive people onto the dance floor.

In Maninka, the language of the former Mandén Empire (c.1230-c.1630) “Tariku” means “chronicle”. It refers to the treasure trove of musical literature kept these 800 years by a hereditary caste of bards called the jelilu (singular, jeli).

At the same time that epics like The Song of Roland and The Poem of the Cid were being sung in the castles of medieval Europe, the Mandén tariku or “chronicles of Mandén” were being performed in the courts of medieval West Africa. These epics are rich with high adventure, great battles, palace intrigues, cunning sorceresses, stalwart warriors, and august kings. Basically, imagine Game of Thrones, but with the cast of Black Panther, and you’re halfway there.

Our musical and historical director, El Hajj Mamady “Jelike” Kouyate, holds the eminent position of Jeli Kuntigi (literally “Headmaster”) of the Society of Mandén Jelilu of the Americas. As the foremost authority in this hemisphere on his people’s musico-historical tradition, he has charged us with the task (no pressure) of elevating and popularizing this tragically underappreciated art form here in the west. In the spirit of this, we strive to present these timeless pieces in a way that will be at once accessible and entertaining for American listeners, and also painstakingly faithful to the tradition. The result is a performance that falls somewhere between classical and jazz, between storytelling and song, between ancient and modern.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: The Mandingo Ambassadors play authentic West African music Fri., Aug. 2

Mamady Kouyate of The Mandingo Ambassadors.

The amazing Mandingo Ambassadors return to Best Video Film & Cultural Center on Friday, Aug. 2, for another sensational show of authentic West African music, led by guitarist Mamady Kouyate. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

For those who have seen The Mandingo Ambassadors at Best Video in one of their two previous appearances here, know that they will be taking a somewhat different approach for this gig.

For this show, they are adding an element of West African Classical music to their usual West African Jazz repertoire. This will be a mostly acoustic gig featuring two new—to their performances at Best Video—traditional instruments, the kora and balafon.

The personnel will also be different, and as follows: Mamady “Djelike” Kouyate (guitar),  Arouna “Mamoudouba” Kouyate/ Aaron Latham Greenberg (Kora and Vocals), Dylan Olimpi McDonnell (Flute/Alto Sax), Andy Algire (Bala), Frank Brocklehurst (Bass), and Matt Dean (Percussion).

The show will include at least one (possibly two) performances of traditional Mande “Tariku” or oral histories, sung in the style of the court bards of the old Mali Empire (1230-1630 CE). Think “Game of Thrones”, but with about 100% less white people, and you’re halfway there. These will be performed in Maninka, but then translated into English for the few audience members whose Maninka may be a little rusty.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Music: The Lost Tribe offers West African fusion Fri., Sept. 28

The Lost Tribe, led by percussionist Jocelyn Pleasant, plays Best Video Performance Space on Friday, Sept. 28. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

Based in Middletown, CT, this high energy band performs music rooted in West African tradition, while incorporating funk, reggae, jazz and other styles.

Organized by percussionist Jocelyn Pleasant, the group includes Seny Tatchol Camara, Matt Belliveau, Joel Hewitt, Nathan Davis, Karim Rome, and Richard III McGhee.

Jocelyn Pleasant is a percussionist and educator from Bloomfield, CT. She received her first formal training from the Hartt School Community Division in classical percussion at age 10. In addition, she studied African percussion and jazz drum set the Artists Collective, Jackie and Dollie McLean’s community arts center in Hartford, CT. Some of her teachers at the Collective included Alan Palmer, Raymond Williams, and Steve Davis. Both institutions afforded Jocelyn the opportunity to perform throughout New England.

Jocelyn continued her music studies at the George Washington University in Washington DC, as a Presidential Arts Scholar and American Studies major. Her primary teachers were Ricky Loza and Alejandro Lucini, with whom she studied Latin (Afro-Cuban and Brazilian) drums and percussion.

Jocelyn now resides in Middletown, CT and teaches and plays in a variety of genres and settings. She is currently on staff at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and teaches a residency program at Goodwin College Early Childhood Learning Center as a teaching artist for Backbeat City Performing Arts. She has also been on staff at the Artists Collective and Green Street Arts Center.

Her performance credits on drum set and percussion include working with such artists as Jay Hoggard, Steve Davis, Warren Byrd, Phil Bowler, Kim Clarke, Paul Brown, Nat Reeves, Shawnn Monteiro, Sumi Tonooka and many others.

Besides The Lost Tribe, she currently co-leads a jazz band, Medusa, with tap dancer Corey Hutchins. She is also the percussionist for reggae band Black Rock Social, the R&B/funk/soul band Snooty Garland, and drummer for Orice Jenkins and Ed Byrne’s Latin Jazz Evolution.

UPCOMING EVENTS (Music events start at 8 PM unless otherwise noted; screenings start at 7 PM unless otherwise noted):

• Thursday, Sept. 20. GARAGE ROCK: THE 509ERS

• Friday, Sept. 21. JAZZ: JAZZPHORIA (HAMDEN HIGH SCHOOL JAZZ COMBO)

• Saturday, Sept. 22. SINGER-SONGWRITER: ANNE MARIE MENTA BAND

• Monday, Sept. 24, 7:30 PM. REMEMBERED IN THEIR OWN WORDS: A MEMORIAL READING FOR DONALD HALL & JANE KENYON​

• Tuesday, Sept. 25. FILM SCREENING: NH DOCS—THE NEW HAVEN DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL & BVFCC PRESENT “FAMILY MEAL” with director JAMES O’CONNOR

• Wednesday, Sept. 26, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: COURTNEY HARTMAN & TAYLOR ASHTON (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Thursday, Sept. 27, 7 PM. INDIE ROCK: PLANET WHAT (TULSA, OK), VIET RAHM (CHICAGO), DR. MARTINO, COMMERCIAL INTERRUPTION

• Friday, Sept. 28. AFRO-FUNK FUSION: THE LOST TRIBE

• Saturday, Sept. 29. JUG BAND MUSIC: WASHBOARD SLIM & THE BLUE LIGHTS

• Sunday, Sept. 30, 2 PM. FILM SCREENING: PROF. MARK SCHENKER PRESENTS “REAR WINDOW”

• Tuesday, Oct. 2, 7 PM. LITERARY READING: ALICE MATTISON, SANDI KAHN SHELTON

• Wednesday, Oct. 3, 7:30 PM. ROCK ‘N’ ROLL: THE RIGHT OFFS; JAMES DARLING & THE NUCLEAR HEARTBREAK

• Thursday, Oct. 4. INDIE AMERICANA: TINY OCEAN

• Friday, Oct. 5. JAZZ: BADSLAX

• Monday, Oct. 8, 7:30 PM. TRIVIA 237—A BEST VIDEO MONTHLY TRIVIA NIGHT

• Tuesday, Oct. 9. BLUEGRASS: THE ELM CITY RAMBLERS

• Wednesday, Oct. 10, 7 PM. SECOND WEDNESDAY OPEN MIC

• Thursday, Oct. 11. SINGER-SONGWRITER: DAVID BROOKS

• Friday, Oct. 12. DEEP HAMDEN FESTIVAL: GOODNIGHT BLUE MOON, JUNEBUG SADDLE

• Saturday, Oct. 13. DEEP HAMDEN FESTIVAL: ALLEN LOWE—A LOVE SUPINE (with ADAM MATLOCK, BENJAMIN SMITH, ESDRAS LUBIN, JEFF CEDRONE, BOB GORRY)

• Sunday, Oct. 14. DEEP HAMDEN FESTIVAL: BRIAN JARAWA GRAY, LITTLE SILVER

• Tuesday, Oct. 16, 8 PM. COMEDY: REEL LIFE—A STAND-UP SHOW with HOST KENDRA DAWSEY

• Wednesday. Oct. 17. ELM CITY NOISE FEST: performers TBA

• Thursday, Oct. 18. JAZZ: NICK DI MARIA QUARTET presents MR. MILLENNIAL’S REVENGE

• Friday, Oct. 19, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: MISSY RAINES & THE NEW HIP (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Wednesday, Oct. 24, 7:30. ROCK/PSYCHEDELIC: PHEOBE, SAP, THE LOST WEEKEND

• Thursday, Oct. 25. SOLO GUITAR: GLENN ROTH; SINGER-SONGWRITER: FRANK CRITELLI

• Friday, Oct. 26, 7 PM. ANNUAL HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: LIGHT UPON BLIGHT ENSEMBLE scores HORROR FILM

• Sunday, Oct. 28, 1 PM. PROF. MARK SCHENKER: HOW TO READ A FILM—A QUARTET OF NOIR (“THE KILLERS,” 1946)

• Sunday, Oct. 28, 7:30 PM. INDIE SINGER-SONGWRITER: FUST, KATH BLOOM

• Thursday, Nov. 1. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: PONYBIRD, MEGGIE CZEPIEL, RAQUEL VIDAL, MELISSA TALHEM

• Friday, Nov. 2. INDIE ROCK: LYS GUILLORN & HER BAND, ELISA FLYNN

• Saturday, Nov. 3, 7 PM. AMERICANA: TANNERSVILLE

• Sunday, Nov. 4, 1 PM. PROF. MARK SCHENKER: HOW TO READ A FILM—A QUARTET OF NOIR (“OUT OF THE PAST,” 1947)

• Sunday, Nov. 4, 5-8 PM. GUITARTOWNCT MONTHLY SUNDAY BLUEGRASS JAM

• Monday, Nov. 5, 7:30 PM. TRIVIA 237—A BEST VIDEO MONTHLY TRIVIA NIGHT

• Wednesday, Nov. 7. IMPROVISATION: WEST STREET TRIO, FUCHSPRELLEN

• Thursday, Nov. 8. CLASSICAL GUITAR: MAX STEINHOFF

• Friday, Nov. 9, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: KENNY & AMANDA SMITH (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Sunday, Nov. 11, 1 PM. PROF. MARK SCHENKER: HOW TO READ A FILM—A QUARTET OF NOIR (“THE THIRD MAN,” 1949)

• Monday, Nov. 12. FILM SCREENING: NH DOCS—THE NEW HAVEN DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL & BVFCC PRESENT “PLAYING SOLDIER” with director ED GENDRON

• Tuesday, Nov. 13, 7 PM. FILM SCREENING: “REGARDING GRAVITY” (PRESENTED & WITH MUSIC BY SHAWN PERSINGER)

• Saturday, Nov. 10. BLUEGRASS: GEORGIA RAE, THE ANGRY O’HARAS

• Wednesday, Nov. 14, 7 PM. SECOND WEDNESDAY OPEN MIC

• Thursday, Nov. 15. ROCK/PUNK/ROOTS: THE CHRISTIAN MARRONE TRIO

• Friday, Nov. 16. BLUES/ROCK ‘N’ ROLL: JOE MILLER & THE HIPSHAKERS

• Saturday, Nov. 17, 9 AM-10 PM. BVFCC ANNIVERSARY OPEN HOUSE CELEBRATION & FUNDRAISING EXTRAVAGANZA

• Sunday, Nov. 18, 1 PM. PROF. MARK SCHENKER: HOW TO READ A FILM—A QUARTET OF NOIR (“A TOUCH OF EVIL,” 1958)

• Tuesday, Nov. 20, 8 PM. COMEDY: REEL LIFE—A STAND-UP SHOW with HOST KENDRA DAWSEY

• Friday, Nov. 23, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: DAVID PETERSON (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Saturday, Nov. 24. JAZZ: JEFF FULLER & FRIENDS CD RELEASE PARTY

• Wednesday, Nov. 28. INDIE FOLK: CLARA ENGEL; ART SONG: AN HISTORIC

• Saturday, Dec. 1. BLUES/JUG BAND MUSIC: WASHBOARD SLIM & THE BLUE LIGHTS

• Monday, Dec. 3, 7:30 PM. TRIVIA 237—A BEST VIDEO MONTHLY TRIVIA NIGHT

• Wednesday, Dec. 5. BLUES: CODA BLUE

• Thursday, Dec. 6, 7:30 PM. SONGWRITERS IN THE ROUND: FRANK CRITELLI, RICHARD NEAL, BOB CSUGIE, MARK MIRANDO

• Friday, Dec. 7, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: HONEY DEWDROPS (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Saturday, Dec. 8. INDIE ROCK: AUDIO JANE, THE SAWTELLES

• Wednesday, Dec. 12, 7 PM. SECOND WEDNESDAY OPEN MIC

• Friday, Dec. 14. BRAZILIAN JAZZ: SAMBELEZA

• Monday, Dec. 17. ONE MAN SHOW: SAL ANNUNZIATO—PART OF THE FAMILY: A MOB CHILDHOOD

• Tuesday, Dec. 18, 8 PM. COMEDY: REEL LIFE—A STAND-UP SHOW with HOST KENDRA DAWSEY

• Friday, Dec. 21, 7:30 PM. ROCK ‘N’ ROLL CHRISTMAS SHOW: DUST HAT, BRONSON ROCK

• Sat., Jan. 5, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: NATA SABAT/MARK KILIANSKI DUO; DAVID SASSO/KAT WALLACE DUO (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Friday, Jan. 11. SINGER-SONGWRITERS: ANNE MARIE MENTA, SHELLYE VALAUSKAS, LYS GUILLORN