Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Toumani Diabate: The Mandé Variations

Robin Denselow reviews Toumani Diabaté's The Mandé Variations.
The world's best-known exponent of the kora, Toumani Diabaté has spent his life demonstrating the extraordinary versatility of that west African harp. He has used the instrument to accompany all manner of artists - from the bluesman Taj Mahal to Mali's greatest guitarist, the late Ali Farka Touré - and has shown how virtuoso playing on the amplified kora can transform a rousing dance band like his own Symmetric Orchestra. Now, after a bafflingly long 21-year delay, comes only his second solo kora recording, a purely instrumental follow-up to the exquisite Kaira. It was recorded in just two hours, he claims, with no overdubs, and it is remarkable.
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