February 4, 2011

Mamadou Diabate | Courage

ARTIST:  Mamadou Diabate
TITLE:  Courage
LABEL:  World Village
REVIEW:  36 year old Mamadou Diabate comes from a lineage of Malian kora players – his father N’fa is an important musician and his cousin Toumani is probably the world’s best known kora player.  Mamadou now lives in Durham, North Carolina and this is fourth CD – his previous outing, Douga Mansa, won a Grammy award in the Best Traditional World Music Album category.  Here he returns to Bamako but shifts his focus to mostly original compositions for a quintet with balaphone (wooden tuned percussion), ngoni (the African proto-banjo), bass violin and calabash (percussion instrument made out of a gourd).  The music is squarely in the West African Mande tradition, but there are plenty of modern touches – relatively short songs and direct improvisations, propulsive and almost funky rhythms.  There have been a number of fine recordings in the vein of might be called Malian neo-traditional music and this is an excellent addition to that catalog, well worth the attention of any fan of African music.
REVIEWER:  Bill Lupoletti
RECOMMENDED TRACKS:    2    4    7    9

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