Courage (World Village 468108, 2011)
Mamadou Diabate has become one of the most important kora (West African harp) performers in recent years. The Malian virtuoso has recorded traditional and contemporary albums and is seen frequently collaborating with jazz musicians.
For his fifth solo album, Courage, Mamadou Diabate returns to his Malian roots, although this s not traditional material. Courage was recorded in Bamako (Mali) and features original kora pieces accompanied by traditional Malian instruments and acoustic bass. Mamadou is joined by Abou Sissoko on ngoni, Lansana Fode Diabate on bala (balaphone), Adama Diarra on calabash and American bassist Noah Jarrett.
“My last album, Douga Mansa” -winner of the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music Album- was purely playing traditional ideas,” he says. “That was music played by the old kora players in the ’60s and ’70s. Only a couple of songs were my own style, contemporary. This new CD is purely contemporary. Some songs on this album have never been played by a kora player before. They are my own creation. We don’t let the tradition go, but we are modern musicians today.”
Mamadou Diabate, who produced the album, is not just a superb instrumentalist, he is also a kora innovator. “I’m the only kora player who can record songs in six different keys on the same album. You have to change and be versatile to understand each string on the instrument.”
Courage presents new kora pieces by one the most talented and respected musician in the Malian music scene.