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Mamadou Diabate’s “Heritage” On World Village October 14, 2008

United States
With the release of Douga Mansa (“The King’s Vulture” -- WV 468082, October 14, 2008), his third album for World Village, Mamadou Diabate further consolidates his already awe-inspiring reputation as a kora virtuoso and tradition-based musical maverick. His instrument, a 21-stringed West African harp-lute equipped with a gourd resonator, calls for an almost unimaginable degree of physical and creative dexterity. But in Diabate’s hands, the kora proves capable of infinite variation, encompassing delicately articulated structures, swirling eddies of glissandi, pounding, vertical rhythms and roaring cataracts of arpeggio. On Toutou Diarra, the opening track, an astounding range of simultaneous yet syncopated melodies and rhythms join and separate. It seems impossible that such complex clarity could possibly be the work of a solo musician -- with no overdubbing whatsoever -- but so it is. The title tune, with its serene, wave-like themes, refers to patience and life and death recurring in cycles, each leading into and becoming the other. Segou Tara, a memorial to selfless heroes, especially those who do not return home, commences with an arcing, leaping prologue before shifting to a propulsive, loping gait. These and nine other glorious selections engage the imagination and ravish the senses; every note is informed by the sure touch and blazing invention of a world-class master.

Mamadou Diabate was born on February 28,1975 in Kita, Mali, hometown of several generations of Manding jelis, (griots in French -- hereditary musicians, story-tellers and historians). He began studying kora at his father Djelimory’s knee, winning first prize in a regional competition at age fifteen. The youngster relocated to the capital city of Bamako where his famous cousin, Toumani Diabate, took him under his wing, nicknaming him “djelika djan” (tall jeli.) After arriving in the United States with the Instrumental Ensemble of Mali, he decided to make his home there. During his varied career, Diabate has not only explored his ancestral birthright with local stars like Ami Koita, Tata Bambo Kouyaté, and Babani Koné but forged fruitful partnerships with Zimbabwean legend Thomas Mapfumo, Benin’s Angelique Kidjo, and Irish singer Susan McKeown. He is further renowned for trailblazing collaborations with American icons like Eric Bibb, Taj Mahal,

Donald Byrd, Randy Weston, Ira Coleman, Ben Allison, and Roswell Rudd. His previous releases for World Village are Behmanka, (WV 468039 -- 2005), a GRAMMY® Award-nominated solo recital, and Heritage (WV 468064 --2006), an ecstatically received follow-up on which Diabate and a hand-picked team of collaborators enticed showy new blooms from heirloom seeds. In 2007, he was awarded “World Music Artist of the Year” by the American Folk Alliance.

World Village 468082

5 TAABARA 6:56
8 DONSOKE 5:25
9 KORA MALI 4:50
10 SEGOU TARA 6:19
11 KORA GABOU 5:31

Single take recordings
No overdubbing or multi-tracking was used.


“The spirit of jazz certainly hovers over Heritage.The album...is not just a finely-honed example of what a kora virtuoso can do, but a superb collaborative effort from a quartet whose complicity shines through.”
– Bertrand Lavaine, Radio France International Musique

“The textures he (Diabate) weaves between his kora and the acoustic guitar of Djikorya Mory Kante shimmer with an almost transcendental beauty.”
– Nigel Williamson, Songlines (UK)


6-Aug-08 Chicago, IL Old Town School of Folk Music
8,9,10-Aug-08 East Lansing, MI Great Lakes Folk Festival
30-Sep-08 Davidson, NC Davidson College
11-Oct-08 Princeton, NJ Arts Council of Princeton
4-Apr-09 Tamworth, NH Arts Council of Tamworth
16-Apr-09 Chapel Hill, NC UNC WM festival
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