Thursday, May 20, 2010

Interview with Toumani Diabaté

Peter Culshaw interviews Toumani Diabaté.
When I visited the great Malian kora-player Toumani Diabaté’s compound in Bamako to pay my respects a few years ago, it was clear he is a big man locally, “a godfather – chef de famille”, he calls himself. There were seemingly scores of children running about. “I am the eldest son,” he said. “It is my responsibility to look after the families of my brothers and sisters.” So how many children does he have? “That is not the point. This one is Toumani’s, or that one. They all call me uncle.” Family, he says, “is something you have lost the importance of in the West”.

I was in good company paying court to Diabaté in Bamako – both Björk and Damon Albarn had also done the same before recording with him. The evening after meeting him at home, he was playing, with his band the Symmetric Orchestra, some of the funkiest music I’ve ever heard to a crowd of hundreds of dressed-to-the-nines dancers in his old club, the Hogon.
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