Album: Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté

In the Heart of the Moon, WORLD CIRCUIT
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The Independent Culture

There's a temptation to use a catch-all term like "Malian music" for both participants in this delightful collaboration, although we would never use such a verbal umbrella to cover a European country's entire musical output. And Mali is vast: when one of these musicians visits the other, an 800-mile round trip is involved, one which bridges a cultural divide between the Sonrai and Peul traditions of Farka Touré's Muslim northern Mali and the more southerly Mandinka griot tradition in which Diabaté was raised to extend his family's kora-playing heritage. Given the geographical and cultural gulfs, it's astonishing how seamlessly they combine on these dozen pieces, improvised in a few hours without rehearsal. Both musicians are no strangers to cross-cultural collaborations, and the process has been eased by playing traditional themes familiar to both; but it's still remarkable how well Farka Touré's bluesy guitar style and Diabaté's more florid cascades of kora fit together on

There's a temptation to use a catch-all term like "Malian music" for both participants in this delightful collaboration, although we would never use such a verbal umbrella to cover a European country's entire musical output. And Mali is vast: when one of these musicians visits the other, an 800-mile round trip is involved, one which bridges a cultural divide between the Sonrai and Peul traditions of Farka Touré's Muslim northern Mali and the more southerly Mandinka griot tradition in which Diabaté was raised to extend his family's kora-playing heritage. Given the geographical and cultural gulfs, it's astonishing how seamlessly they combine on these dozen pieces, improvised in a few hours without rehearsal. Both musicians are no strangers to cross-cultural collaborations, and the process has been eased by playing traditional themes familiar to both; but it's still remarkable how well Farka Touré's bluesy guitar style and Diabaté's more florid cascades of kora fit together on tracks like "Soumbou Ya Ya" and the wonderful "Kaira" ("Peace"). Kudos to producer Nick Gold and engineer Jerry Boys for capturing these delicate and subtle instruments in such perfect equilibrium.

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