About West African Grooves

Explore new rhythms and melodies in this special 1-day intensive Yacouba Sissoko! This is a hands-on workshop with each participant taking an in-depth look at West African folk music, learning different melodic and rhythmic patterns and experiencing how they all fit together. This program is open to all instrumentalists of all levels.

Dates: July 24th
All sessions will be held from 11am to 5pm at our main space around the corner of Times Square. More detailed outline and information on the schedule will follow.


Yacouba Sissoko will demonstrate and teach how to play several African grooves! This class is open to all instrumentalists who would like to learn and play with an African Master.

-At least 17 years of age
-A willingness to learn!


Yacouba Sissoko was born in Kita, Mali, to a well-known djely family. Djelys are the musical storytellers in West Africa, a position that is inherited through a family bloodline. For centuries they have been the keepers of the factual history and the fictional fables of past rulers, nobles, social groups and families. Highly respected within their communities, djelys are responsible for keeping stories of the past alive and applicable to contemporary audiences. The kora was the traditional instrument that djelys played as the accompaniment to their songs.

At the age of 9,Yacouba started learning the kora and the oral traditions associated with it from his grandfather. By 15, he was touring the country sharing the stories that had been passed down through his family for centuries. Yacouba lived with his grandparents until he moved to Bamako, Mali’s capital, to attend the National Institute of the Arts. Based in the capital, he caught the attention of the music world and began touring with noted artists and ensembles such as Ami Koita, Kandia Kouyate,  and l’Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali, the orchestra that both his mother and grandmother had sung with.  By the time he finished his studies, he was also touring with many great musical names in Mali.

Yacouba moved to New York City in 1998. Immediately he was in high demand as a soloist, guest artist and collaborator.  He performed, toured and recorded with both well known African musicians such as Baaba Maal, Sekou (Bambino) Diabate and Kerfala Kante, and with new up and coming ones such as Tapani Demba, and Awa Sangho.  He was also a founding member of Super Mande, Tamalalou and Fula Flute.

Yacouba was not limited to African music. He began to transcend musical boundaries and was soon playing with jazz, pop, R&B, and classical  musicians. Since then, he has recorded and performed with a variety of artists including Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, Leroy Jenkins and Leni Stern and has been asked to play anything from Indian ragas to Appalachian tunes. He has recorded tracks on over 15 CDs with artists ranging from Sidiki Conde to Jayme Stone, and from Regina Carter to Rahim Alhaj.

Tuition and Registration

$145 Early bird special for registrations received by April 30th
for registrations received after May 1st

To sign up for this Summer Intensive, fill out this brief registration form.

General Information

For more info regarding our summer program, housing, travel, and more, visit our Summer Workshop General Information page. For a more in-depth experience, inquire about adding a private lesson with someone from the NYJW Faculty during your visit. Learn more about how you can combine Summer Intensives to create a customized Summer Jazz Packages. Feel free to reach out via email at [email protected] with any additional questions.

What to expect:
When you join us for one or more of our intensives, you can expect to become a member of our tightly knit community. There will be musicians from all over the world looking to learn, explore and make connections. You will be making connections that last a lifetime. A typical day will be as follows:

11:00am – 1:00pm: Morning Sessions
1:00pm – 2:00pm  Lunch Break
2:00pm – 5:00pm: Afternoon Sessions
Evenings: Free

Student will normally organize small groups or go check out some concerts. See “Fun Evening Activities” in the General Information page for more details. There will be opportunities for every student to perform outside of the school, more details coming up soon.

The New York Jazz Workshop Summer Series is held in our space at Michiko Studios in midtown Manhattan, just a few blocks from Times Square.

New York Jazz Workshop at Michiko Studios
149 West 46 street, 2nd floor
New York, NY 10036
between 6th and 7th avenue