The Mande Vari­a­tions World Cir­cuit

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music Reviews - NIGEL WOOD

Toumani Di­a­baté is the un­ri­valled mas­ter of the kora, the west African harp-lute from the Mande cul­ture of his na­tive Mali. His last album was with his Ba­mako dance band, The Sym­met­ric Orches­tra, and he re­cently played on Björk’s album Volta. This is some­thing quite dif­fer­ent: a com­pletely solo in­stru­men­tal album, recorded with­out over­dubs, and his first solo album for 20 years. Five of the eight pieces here are tra­di­tional, but two are ab­stract im­pro­vi­sa­tions, and the beau­ti­ful Elyne Road is based, per­haps sur­pris­ingly, on a melody from UB40. Through­out the album, Di­a­baté weaves in­tri­cate melodic pat­terns, of­fer­ing ex­tra­or­di­nary rich­ness and com­plex­ity for a solo in­stru­ment. He has been dubbed “the Ravi Shankar of the kora” and cer­tainly de­serves sim­i­lar sta­tus for his re­mark­able mu­si­cian­ship. Out­stand­ing. www.mys­­di­a­bate Down­load tracks: Elyne Road, Kaound­ing Cis­soko, Can­telowes

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