BRATTLEBORO -- Griots are traditional storytellers and poets who have been performing in Western Africa for hundreds of years.

Bideew Bou Bess, three brothers from Senegal who fuse hip hop with traditional African rhythms, have been called 21st century griots, and they will perform Friday night, at 8 p.m. at the Vermont Jazz Center in the Cotton Mill building.

The special concert will feature Charles Neville and tickets are $15.

Tony Vacca, a Western Massachusetts percussionist, first heard the group a few years ago and has wanted to bring the African musicians to New England.

Last year Vacca and Putney musician Derrik Jordan traveled to Senegal as part of a State Department sponsored tour.

The two New England musicians did a series of concerts with Bideew Bou Bess and began to work on bringing the trio to the United States.

On Friday night Bideew Bou Bess will perform with Vacca, Jordan and Neville for a special performance that Jordan says will link modern hip hop with traditional African rhythms and American jazz and funk.

Bideew Bou Bess, which means "New star in the sky", has been performing for 18 years and sell out theaters throughout Senegal.

"This is a very special opportunity to see these musicians right here in Brattleboro," Jordan said. "They connect the ancient griot African tradition with modern Western culture and they have a social consciousness. It is going to be a powerful performance.


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The film "Sahel Calling," which documents the oppression of musicians in Mali, will be shown before the show at 7 p.m.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com; or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.