Toumani and Sidiki Diabaté ‘Toumani and Sidiki’ (World Circuit) 4/5

Toumani and SidikiIf you have ever wondered how the sound of the harp might be transposed into an African context, then the West African twenty-one string kora is most certainly worth checking out and Toumani Diabaté from Mali is undoubtedly its current major practitioner. Diabaté is something of a veteran on the world roots music scene having recorded his first solo album back in 1988 and, among a host of collaborations, recorded the memorable duet album with the late great Ali Farka Touré. For this latest project he is joined by his twenty-three year old son Sidiki and this can best be described as a reposing father-son musical journey. In keeping with the Griot family tradition, the musical roots of the Diabaté family go back several generations and thus music is considered with due reverence by the close knit circle of musicians. Recorded in the Malian capital Bamako under the expert ears of Jerry Boys and co-produced by Nick Gold and Lucy Duran, this is akin to hearing the musicians perform in your living room and other than the twin sounds of the kora, no other instrumentation is required. The opening composition ‘Hamadou Toure’ sets the reflective pace and if there is any music capable of taking away the stresses and strains of daily modern life, then this is surely it. A heart warming tribute to the African migrants who paid with their lives for seeking to cross the Mediterranean is laid down on ‘Lampedusa’ while for a gradual build up of intensity and tension ‘Claudia and Salma’ could hardly be bettered. Glorious and timeless music. A UK and Irish tour will commence on 20 May including a concert at the RNCM in Manchester on 24 May and will conclude in Dublin on 7 June.

Tim Stenhouse