News & Reviews
- Friday, January 18, 2013
In response to the current situation in Mali, Fatoumata Diawara has gathered together over 40 of Mali’s most renowned musicians in a studio in Bamako to record a song and video calling for peace titled "Mali-ko" (Peace / La Paix). Known collectively as Voices United for Mali, the group includes Amadou & Mariam, Oumou Sangare, Toumani Diabate, Afel Bocoum, Bassekou Kouyate, Vieux Farka Toure, and others. Watch the video and read the lyrics and their translation here.
- Friday, July 20, 2012
AfroCubism, the supergroup of Cuban and Malian singers and instrumentalists, made a rare tour of North America last month. CNN caught up with band member Toumani Diabaté to discuss the project in a piece for CNN's African Voices. "His collaborations and his vision," says CNN, "pairing the unique sound of the kora with instruments from across the globe, open up a world of possibility, all the while maintaining his roots at home in West Africa." Watch the full story, featuring clips from AfroCubism's performance at Bonnaroo, and an extended interview with Diabaté, here.
About this Album
In February, Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté received a Grammy for In the Heart of the Moon, his intimate collaboration with the late, great African guitarist Ali Farka Touré. That recording was part of a three-part series called The Hotel Mandé Sessions, which was recorded at Bamako, Mali’s Hotel Mandé by Nick Gold and his World Circuit team, including longtime engineering collaborator Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club). In July 2006, World Circuit / Nonesuch released another album from the series, the debut of Diabaté’s pan-African Symmetric Orchestra, Boulevard de l’Indépendance.
A five-star review by London’s The Times said, “if there is any justice, the Malian master of the West African harp known as the kora should pick up another GRAMMY for his new record because there won’t be a better African album this year.” The Independent gave the album four stars and called it “a triumph.”
Over the last decade, Diabaté and his Symmetric Orchestra have performed almost every Friday night at Bamako’s Hogon club. They have become one of the most popular bands in the city’s vast music scene, celebrated across West Africa and beyond. Like the new album’s title—taken from the main road that bisects Bamako—the group’s name refers to a balance between tradition and progress: music preserved from the Mandé Empire that once connected West Africa and contemporary dance-music styles. The Symmetric Orchestra comprises players from Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Mali, and its instrumentation includes electric guitar, bass, and drums, as well as the more traditional kora, ngoni, and balafon.
Boulevard de l’Indépendance captures the Symmetric Orchestra’s singular sound, which in nine tracks spans everything from age-old Mandé standards to Cuban-Senegalese salsa. The album was recorded in two weeks of all-night sessions and features a string section, a horn section arranged by Pee Wee Ellis, and singers including the local hero Kasse Mady Diabaté.
Fifty-fourth in a hereditary line of master musicians and griots, Toumani Diabaté is simultaneously revered as the guardian of an ancient musical tradition and as a bold, boundary-crossing experimentalist. He has earned acclaim for inventive solo records as well as collaborations with Blur’s Damon Albarn, American bluesman Taj Mahal, and the flamenco group Ketama, among others.
Toumani Diabaté, kora karignan, musical director
Fanta Mady Koyaté, lead guitar
Alhassane Kanouté, rhythm guitar
Ousseïn Tounkara, bass, guitar (9)
Amadou Guitteye, acoustic guitar (9)
Mamadou “Santiago” Kouyaté, acoustic guitar (2)
Fodé Lassane Diabaté, balafon
Adama Tounkara, Bassékou Kouyaté, Ganda Tounkara, ngoni
Sekou Kanté, Etienne Mbappé, bass
Mamadou Fofana, keyboards, Peul flute
Alex Wilson, piano (5)
Fodé Kouyaté, Brice Wassy, drums
Yaya Faye, Souleymane Faye, Mamadou Tounkara, Mohamed Coulibaly, sabar
Mahamadou Kouyaté, Bandiougou Kouyaté, ntama
Dramane Coulibaly, djembe
Lamine Toukara, dundun, bell
Roberto Pla, timbales, MC (5)
Dlalekan Babalola, congas, triangle
Soumaila Kanouté, lead vocals (1), chorus vocals
Kasse Mady Diabaté, lead vocals (3, 7)
Mangala Camara, lead vocals (4)
Tiecoro Sissoko, lead vocal (7), chorus vocals
Moussa Diabaté, lead vocals (5, 8, 9), chorus vocals
Morissanda Kamissoko, lead vocals (6)
Mamdou Camara, spoken voice (9)
Mamadou Kouyaté, Ramama Sylla, Koumba Avian Tounuino, Fatim Sylla, chorus vocals
Pee Wee Ellis, Mike Smith, tenor & baritone sax, horn arrangements
Matt Holland, Chris Storr, Byron Wallen, Sid Gould, trumpet
Trevor Mires, Matt Colman, Fayyaz Virji, trombone
Simon Hale, string arrangements, conductor
Gavyn Wright, Perry Montague-Mason, Patrick Kiernan, Julian Leaper, Bruce White, violin
Dave Daniels, cello
A World Circuit Production
Produced by Nick Gold
Recorded and mixed by Jerry Boys
Recorded at the Hotel Mandé, Bamako, Mali
Technical Support: Peter Martelli
Assistant Recording Engineer: Yves Wernert
Second Assistant Recording Engineer: Ibrahim Tankara
Assistant to Yves Wernert: Ibrahim Coulibaly
Additional recording at Studio Bogolan, Bamako, by Yves Wernert; and at Livingston Studios, London, by John Mallison
Mixed at Livingston Studios, London
Assistant Mix Engineers: Graham Dominy and Tom Bailey
Mastered by Tom Leader and Jerry Boys
Production Supervisor: Sara Daoud
Tracks 2, 4, 6-8 trad., arr. Toumani Diabaté; tracks 1, 3, 5 composed by Toumani Diabaté; track composed by 9 Toumani Diabaté, Amadou Djite, Hussein Tounkara. Lyrics on track 1 by Soumaila Kanouté, track 4 by Mangala Camara, track 8 by Moussa Diabaté.
Design by IWantDesign.co.uk
Photography by Christina Jaspars
This album is available from Nonesuch in the United States and Canada only.