Toumani & Sidiki
Sidiki Diabate is a rapper – but he is also the son of master kora player Toumani. Here the father son team combine for a set of duets, you’ll hear dad on the left, junior on the right, a spellbinding weave as the dance of the kora circles itself, entrancing melodies and hypnotic rhythms. Also – of course – there’s that nod to history, Toumani a griot, his ancestors accounting for some 70 generations of music before him.
There’s a playfulness to most of this set, despite fast and furious improvisation – and if at times you recall Toumani’s work with the late Ali Farka Toure well, I’m sure that’s been part of the plan here. So much of this is about the call and response, the dialogue between the two and of course the kora is the perfect instrument here as it has been designed to both lead and follow, providing rhythm and melody.
And there’s always that moment where there’s a thrill – and it’s sometimes even quite chilling – to hear the fingers dance down the spine of the tune. A different effect every time too, whether it’s the gentle coaxing on a ballad like Lampedusa, a haunting new composition for this album or on folk staples from this idiom, as on the altogether more lively Bagadaji Sirifoula. Sometimes, as on this tune, and the following Tijaniya, it’s incredible hearing just how versatile the kora is, muted strings for bass note effects, the proud, strong root notes and then the little magic flourishes from the fingertips.
This is a pretty special set of recordings.