“Jali Bakary Konteh is the son of Dembo Konte and Alhaji Bai Konte’s grandson, two of the best known Gambian kora players ever.
Like his forefathers, his exceptional talent gives him both flexibility and musical originality. Jali Bakary Konteh is a master of traditional Gambian folk songs with the unique and special Gambian line, which is not heard much these days because most internationally known Kora players have not learned Kora in the traditional way, surrounded by musicians on a family compound in Africa. He likes to add his own modern twists and improvisation to his arrangements, which gives his music a fresh but familiar feel.
As a Griot, Jali Bakary Konteh is also a teacher of music and Mandinka Griot culture, and an historian. He weaves all these talents into his performance to make it a spellbinding, satisfying and fulfilling experience.
He has worked comprehensively in West and North Africa with his father Dembo Konte, the Salaam Band and Sofa Nyama playing festivals in Morocco & Abene, represented the Gambia with the Kaira Band at International Festival in Libya, and regularly performing at Kartong, Abene & Kafountine Festivals.
Jali Bakary has collaborated with US Blue Grass guitarist Steve Pile and released his first album, Konteh Kunda on Akwaba Records to critical acclaim in 2010. With Steve, he has also built the Konteh Kunda School of Music on the family compound in Brikama, Gambia. The school’s aim is to protect his Mandinka Griot cultural heritage, music and dance traditions.
Since Jali moved to the UK in 2015, he has worked on many projects in many different formats again showing his exceptional versatility. Firstly, with Bafula who played at WOMAD UK on the BBC Introducing stage, selected as a band for the future. During 2017, he joined Minyanta launching at Koko, Camden and Rich Mix, Shoreditch. Minyanta are working on their first album and touring Summer 2020.
He has been an ambassador to his traditions and culture at events at The Horniman Museum, the Ismaili Centre, Nne Agwu Afrakan Storytelling Festival, African International Day, Kaleidoscope Goes Gambia, Alchemy Early Years, Black History Month and Fashion Slays Cancer Events in London. He worked with Kora Workshop to further the profile of the Kora at WOMAD festival. He loves to pass on his knowledge to Kora students now in London.”