Manden Kurufa was a great medieval imperial power of Sudanic Africa, and it spawned the cherished musical traditions of the djali (griot) caste that produced postcolonial Malian masters Ali Farka Touré, Sidiki Diabaté (who recorded the first-ever LP of kora music), and his son Toumani. Some scholars think the Mandé were the very source of Saharan civilization, extending the sonic roots Toumani Diabaté draws from on The Mandé Variations back to Antiquity. Yet Diabaté fils continues to surpass his sire's pioneering by mixing electric instrumentation with the de rigueur kora, balafon, bolombatto, and djembe, as well as collaborating with diverse acts across the Afro-Atlantic continuum from Taj Mahal to Björk. Such diversity may seem common in this iPod era, yet wouldn't it be nice if all the ballyhooed cross-pollination were as invested with gravitas and ancient mystery?
Sun., Nov. 2, 7 p.m., 2008
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