NURU KANE is an exceptional talent. On stage he is a dynamo, energised and liberated, enthralling and intoxicating. His unique sound and presence on vocals and guimbri is backed by the magnificent Bayefall Gnawa band which includes the French guitarist, n’goni and oud player Thierry Fournel, the senegalese percussionist Mamadou Sarr on calabash and djembé, Jawad El Garouge on kerkabous, bendir, Guimbri and the Senegalese master kora player, Djabel Cissokho. All the band contribute vocals.
Following the release of his debut CD ‘Sigil’ in the spring of 2006, Nuru Kane & Bayefall Gnawa took to the road with an extensive tour of the UK followed by dates in Holland, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, France and Morocco.
Whether playing clubs or festivals the response was uniform. From the moment Nuru takes the stage audiences are captivated by his physical presence and disarmed by his warmth, humour and obvious sincereity. With this band every gig is different but what each performance does share is the sense of adventure and musical risk offset by the sheer genius and inventiveness of the musicians and the palpable unity forged between performers and audiences.
The Bayefall Gnawa’s unique line up combines acoustic instruments from West Africa (kora, n’goni, calabasse and djembe) with the cacabas and oud, instruments more commonly used by North African and Arabic musicians. The whole Bayefall Gnawa sound revolves around and responds too Nuru’s beloved guimbri, a three stringed acoustic bass that forms the muscular core of the gnawa trance rhythms.
On top of the music sits Nuru’s big golden baritone of a voice, clear strong and captivating he can howl, growl or spread honey as needs insist. This vocal powerhouse is backed by the Bayefall Gnawa’s beautiful chorus and backing vocals and partnered by the Arabic contributions from Kada and Jaouad.
Although Bayefall Gnawa’s instrumentation is acoustic the sound and energy they generate is electrifying.
Nuru comes from Medina in Dakar, Senegal and was originally a lead dancer in a youth dance troupe. He was well into his mid-teens before he first learnt to play bass guitar and began singing and playing in bands. Local boy Youssou N’dour was, of course, a major influence but Nuru also found himself drawn to the blues, pop, reggae and jazz. He moved to Paris in the late nineties and soon after he took his first trip to Morocco where he heard Gnawa music close up for the first time. He was immediately captivated by the rhythms, energy and spontaneity of Gnawa and became wholly entranced by the deep rolling sound of the guimbri. He returned to Europe with a guimbri of his own and quickly joined forces with Thierry Fournel to form a fledgling Bayefall Gnawa.
The band first gained recognition outside of Paris in 2004 when they accepted a last minute invitation to play at Mali’s Festival in the Desert. Although their performance on the last day wasn’t mentioned in the programme (and despite Nuru suffering from a heavy bout of Malaria) they went down a storm and the gig was captured by a BBC film crew who were recording the festival. This success led to an invitation for Nuru to play solo in London and from there many more concerts, both solo and with Bayefall Gnawa, and a record deal with World Music Network quickly followed.
Nuru’s debut album ‘Sigil’ was released worldwide in the spring of 2006. It instantly won widespread praise in specialist music magazines, mainstream press, web review pages and amongst world DJ’s worldwide. Hailed by Rolling Stone.com as “ a masterpiece” the album was a “Top of the World” choice in Songlines and described as a “must have” by Amazon’s editors. SIGIL’s success was cemented when promoters, festival organisers, agents, record labels and venue managers from around the world attending the 2006 WOMEX expo in Seville nominated Nuru as “Best Newcomer” for the 2007 BBC 3 Awards for World Music.