Tag Archives: Toumani Diabate

Notable World Music Programming at Savannah Music Festival 2018

The Savannah Music Festival has announced the world music artists set to perform in 2018. The festival next year will take place March 29th through April 14th, 2018, at a number of venues throughout Savannah’s Historic District.

As usual, the festival selected first rate world music acts. Mali’s Trio Da Kali will share a bill with South African guitarist Derek Gripper (a kora music practitioner).

Malian kora maestro Toumani Diabaté is set to perform with his son Sidiki Diabaté in A World of Strings, an original production also including Brazilian music played by Savannah Music Festival Associate Artistic Director and mandolinist Mike Marshall and pianist Jovino Santos Neto (who will also play a solo show).


Diego El Cigala – Photo by Anya Bartels Suermondt


Iberian sounds include the great Dominican Republic-based Spanish flamenco singer Diego El Cigala and Portuguese fado singer António Zambujo.

Cellist Mike Block will perform with fellow Silk Road Ensemble musician Sandeep Das on tabla.

The festivals’ Latin Dance Party features the unrivaled Cuban son ensemble, Septeto Santiaguero.

Festival favorites Lúnasa (Ireland) and Tim O’Brien will team up for a concert of Irish and Appalachian-influenced music.

Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas play on a double bill with an electrifying new all-female acoustic music quartet called The Goodbye Girls.

For ticket information and the rest of the programming, including classical music, American roots music, jazz, theatrical productions and films, visit www.savannahmusicfestival.org.

headline photo: Septeto Santiaguero with El Canario


New York’s World Music Institute Reveals The 2017-18 Season

The World Music Institute (WMI) has announced the 2017-18 series of concerts. The world music programming includes over 40 performances by musicians from 28 countries.

Some of the highlights include acclaimed Ethiopian stars Mahmoud Ahmed and Hailu Mergia; the New York debut of Tuareg rising star, guitarist Mdou Moctar and his band; Portuguese Fado star Mariza; Lebanese singer-songwriter Yasmine Hamdan; Hindustani bansuri master Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia; Afrobeat/techno duo Tony Allen & Jeff Mills; Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man; Malian kora masters Toumani Diabaté & Sidiki Diabaté; South African jazz legends Abdulla Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela; Ibibio Sound Machine; Canadian Inuk artist Tanya Tagaq; and a special collaboration between Kronos Quartet and Soo Yeon Lyuh, master of the haegeum (Korean two-string fiddle).

Wu Man

Venues include intimate spaces such as Littlefield and The David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center as well as large-scale stages like BAM Opera House, Apollo Theater and The Town Hall.

For a more details, tickets and complete list of events go to www.worldmusicinstitute.org, or call 212-279-4200.


Artist Profiles: Toumani Diabate

Toumani Diabate
Toumani Diabate

Toumani Diabate is one the most brilliant players of the kora (a 21-string harp-lute from West Africa). He was born in 1965 in Bamako into a great kora playing family – his father, the late Sidiki Diabate, was known throughout West Africa as the king of the kora. Sidiki Diabaté, raised the instrument from being a simple jali accompaniment instrument to the rank of solo performer.

Toumani Diabate began his apprenticeship on the kora at the age of five and made his first public performance eight years later with the Koulikoro Ensemble at the Mali Biennale. After winning the prize at that performance for Best Traditional Orchestra, he was invited to join Mali’s National Ensemble. Toumani toured Gabon and France in 1983, accompanying the great female jali singer Kandia Kouyaté.

In 1987 (then just 21 years old), Toumani broke into the international concert scene with his highly acclaimed album Kaira , still one of the best-selling solo kora albums.

Toumani’s success as soloist was immediate. He toured Europe, giving fifty concerts in Great Britain alone in 1988. Toumani has taken the kora to new heights, particularly in his two successful collaborations (Songhai and Songhai 2)with Nuevo Flamenco stars Ketama and bassist Danny Thompson. Songhai was a combination of Malian kora and flamenco, supported by a jazz bass line.

Although Toumani is largely self taught, the aggressive improvisatory style pioneered by his father is strikingly evident in Toumani’s own unique and inimitable style of playing which is intensely melodic.

In January of 2004, World Circuit’s Nick Gold was recording Ali Farka Toure’s first album in five years. The guitarist and his longtime producer from World Circuit invited Toumani Diabate to join Toure for one track: the traditional Malian song, “Kaira.” Without rehearsal, the duo improvised a version of the piece and quickly began recording another. The collaboration was so successful Nick Gold suggested they create an entire album together.

In July 2004, Nick Gold took his World Circuit team and their longtime engineering collaborator Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club) to Bamako, Mali to record In the Heart of the Moon. They set up a mobile studio in the Hotel Mande in Bamako, overlooking the Niger River and recorded the album there in three two-hour sessions. Drawing on a body of traditional songs familiar to both men, Toure and Diabate again began without rehearsing together beforehand. Only one song required a second take-because it had been interrupted by a rainstorm.

The record also includes subtle contributions from Ry Cooder on piano and guitar; Sekou Kante and Cacha?to L?pez on bass; and Joachim Cooder and Olalekan Babalola on percussion. In the Heart of the Moon is the first of a trilogy of albums Nick Gold’s label recorded at the Hotel Mande.

In recent years Toumani’s has been enjoying recognition for his contribution to the development of the kora, and as a key figure in African music. In 2003 he received the Tamani d’or, a prize awarded to the best kora player in the world; the following year saw Toumani receive the Zyriab des Virtuoses, a UNESCO prize awarded at the Mawazine Festival organized by King Mohammed 6th of Morocco, he is the first black African ever to be given the prize.

Toumani has been taking steps to help preserve the legacy of traditional kora music in Mali, and to educate future generations of their rich musical heritage, whilst encouraging them to also explore the creative possibilities within music. He is President/Director of Mandinka Kora Productions, who actively promote the kora through workshops, festivals, and various cultural events.

Toumani is also a teacher of the kora and of modern and traditional music at the Balla Fasseke Conservatoire of Arts, Culture and Multimedia, which opened at the end of 2004. Toumani has also entered into a creatively furtive period; he reunited with Ballake Sissoko for a track on Ballake’s album Tomora and also appears on the title track of Salif Keita’s 2006 recording M’Bemba.

In 2010, Toumani Diabate participated in AfroCubism. This was World Circuit’s dream project. The original intention for Buena Vista Social Club was a stellar collaboration of musicians from Mali and Cuba. In 2000 the original plan was finally realized with an incredible line-up including Eliades Ochoa, Bassekou Kouyate, Djelimady Tounkara, Toumani Diabaté, Grupo Patria, Kasse Mady Diabaté and Lassana Diabaté.

The 2014 album, Toumani & Sidiki, features Toumani Debate and his son Sidiki.


New Ancient Strings (Hannibal, 1999)

Djelika (Hannibal, 1995)

Kaira (Hannibal, 1988)

Songhai, with Ketama (Hannibal, 1988)

Songhai 2 (Hannibal, 1995)

New Ancient Strings, with Ballake Sissoko (Hannibal, 1999)

Kulanjan (1999), with Sissoko, Kasse Mady Diabate and Taj Mahal

In the Heart of the Moon : Best of Toumani Diabate (Hannibal, 2001)

Mali Music, with Afel Bocoum, Damon Albarn (Honest Jon’s Records, 2002)

Malicool, with Roswell Rudd (Soundscape, 2003)

In the Heart of the Moon, with Ali Farka Toure (World Circuit, 2005)

Boulevard de l’Independance (World Circuit, 2006)

Ali & Toumani (World Circuit, 2010)

Afrocubism ((World Circuit, 2010)

A Curva da Cintura, with Arnaldo Antunes and Edgard Scandurra (Mais Um Discos, 2011)

Toumani & Sidiki (Nonesuch, 2014)


Songhai Revisited at WOMAD 2016

Toumani Diabate, Juan Carmona, and Josemi Carmona
Toumani Diabate, Juan Carmona and Josemi Carmona


Songhai, the iconic 1988 collaboration between Malian kora master Toumani Diabate, double bass virtuoso Danny Thompson and the young Madrid flamenco group Ketama will be recreated at WOMAD 2016. This version features Toumani Diabate, Juan Carmona (Ketama), Josemi Carmona (Ketama) and Spanish flamenco jazz bassist Javier Colina & guests. The musicians will revisit the two Songhai albums, Songhai (Nuevos Medios/Hannibal Records) and Songhai 2 (Nuevos Medios/Hannibal Records).



The original Songhai project came about in 1997, when Ketama was touring the UK and met Toumani at a house party. They jammed and decided to record an album in Madrid. Songhai was produced by visionary Spanish producer Mario Pacheco (Nuevos Medios) and Joe Boyd (Hannibal records).




Songhai 2
Songhai 2

Savannah Music Festival 2009 Will Present the Most Artistically Diverse Season in the History of the Organization


Savannah (Georgia), USA – The Savannah Music Festival (SMF) announces its most artistically diverse lineup to date for the upcoming 2009 festival, including several commissioned works and a wealth of original productions showcasing a wide variety of American and international musical traditions.

Committed to enhancing the cultural landscape of Savannah, SMF programs combine elegance and soul in a way that mirrors the history and culture of the remarkable city. The unique musical arts event is one of the highlights of springtime on the southeastern U.S. coast and a distinctive destination for cultural travelers.

The 2009 festival takes place between March 19 and April 5 in historic downtown Savannah and features more than 100 musical performances in intimate settings.

Original Productions & Other Highlights

• Long Time Travelin’, a celebration of American folksong traditions: Rayna Gellert of Uncle Earl with Patrick Sauber, old-time balladeer Tim Eriksen, National Heritage Fellow Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the Tatnall River Shapenote Singers, and host Jim Lauderdale, an acclaimed Nashville singer-songwriter

• Jazz Now and Forever, a series of jazz greats including Dianne Reeves, Chick Corea & John McLaughlin’s Five Peace Band featuring Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett and Brian Blade, and The Clayton Brothers

• The Gershwin Songbook, jazz pianist Marcus Roberts and classical pianist Sebastian Knauer performing the greatest compositions of this masterful American composer

• The Blues was Born Here, an authentic southern blues review showcasing Piedmont blues masters Cephas & Wiggins on a one-time only bill with Georgia’s own Beverly “Guitar” Watkins

• Resplendent Recitals, a series highlighting the world’s finest recitalists including tenor Ian Bostridge, guitarist Manuel Barrueco, and pianists Garrick Ohlsson, Marc-Andre Hamelin and Sebastian Knauer

• Big World of Music, leading international artists such as fado star Mariza, Mike Marshall & Darol Anger with Väsen, Bela Fleck’s Africa Project featuring virtuosos Toumani Diabate, Vusi Mahlasela, and D’Gary, and Indian maestros Zakir Hussain & Shiv Kumar Sharma.

• The 16th annual American Traditions Competition, some of the nation’s most talented aspiring vocalists competing for more than $30,000 in prize monies

• The three-night Savannah Jazz Party featuring Bucky Pizzarelli, Howard Alden, Howard Paul and Ken Peplowski; the Ellis Marsalis Quartet; and the 2009 Piano Showdown with solos and duos by pianists Eddie Palmieri, Henry Butler, Aaron Goldberg and Bob Seeley

• The Complete Brandenburg Concertos performed by the Academy of Ancient Music with Richard Egarr

• Organ Stops, a six-concert series featuring such internationally acclaimed organists as Janette Fishell

• Everybody Dance Now, a three-concert series of dance parties featuring Eddie Palmieri & La Perfecta II, Zydeco great Cedric Watson, and the rising young Cajun ensemble, Feufollet

• Georgia On My Mind, a four-concert series including Savannah’s own Bobby Lee Rodgers & Friends in a one-time only event, as well as the Marcus Printup Quartet, Caroline Herring, and Sacred Harp Singing with Tim Eriksen

• Swing Central, a three-day high school jazz band and competition capped off by Battle Royale, the closing night finale concert featuring a cutting contest with trumpeters, saxophonists, trombonists and rhythm sections. Featured performers: Marcus Roberts Trio, The Clayton Brothers, Wycliffe Gordon, Terrell Stafford, Scotty Barnhart and others

• Roots & Twang, a varied series featuring Neko Case with Crooked Fingers, Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile, The Infamous Stringdusters and The Lovell Sisters, and The Blues was Born Here

• Tap master Savion Glover, combining two different projects on a Savannah stage

Tickets go on sale at 9 am EST on November 13 and are available online at www.savannahmusicfestival.org or by phone at 912-525-5050.


His World is Your World

Various Artists – Sound of the World

Various Artists

Sound of the World (Wrasse Records WRASS 169, 2005)

BBC London DJ Charlie Gillett has, as they say, done it again. The latest in his annual series of world music compilations is two CDs worth of tracks that are each winners in their own right, each contributing to the fact that the whole thing is a collective winner.

Gillett has a knack for picking what’s likely to prick up the ears of newcomers to world music as well as having a good sense of what possibly jaded aficionados will want to hear. Thus we get a corking good mix of traditional music with progressive, unplugged with plugged and familiar artists (Oliver Mtukudzi, Mariza, Youssou N’Dour, Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate, Lhasa) with those who are likely less so (Laye Sow, Dead Combo, Ivan Kupala, The Chehade Brothers).

Listening to these discs not only clues one in on what’s happening musically in the 28 countries represented, but what they glean from each other. You’re just as likely to hear something that’s, say, recognizably Senegalese, Brazilian or Russian as you are to hear techno stirred into traditional and collaborators from different countries (or even different continents) mixing it up).

Years of spinning music on the radio has given Gillett a shrewd sense of pacing and contrast, so transitions between tracks and styles manage not to be too jarring and can heighten appreciation of previously heard material. I was not, for example, very impressed with the recent CD by Romania’s Gypsy/techno Shukar Collective, though hearing one song from it amid the twists and turns of a larger melting pot was decidedly more pleasant. But no matter how this compilation washes over you, rest assured that a globetrotting sonic adventure of the highest order awaits.

Buy Sound of the World.