Catalogue Number:LBLC2576
Release Date:2001-01-22
Review:The kora is West Africa's answer to the European harp, and wonderfully beguiling it is: it was with this that generations of Mande kings were soothed by their minstrels, and the list of virtuosi is long. This album from Mali's newest kora star--who first came to prominence by duetting with kora king Toumani Diabate--is the quintessence of easy listening. Ballake Sissoko plays with lazy warmth, and he's accompanied by young players on other Malian instruments which have a comparable pedigree. Adama Tounkara plays the lute-like ngoni, and Fassery Diabate the balafon, a wooden xylophone with a distinctive slapping effect. Mama Draba, their singer, has a sweetly insinuating, almost feline, tone. The group virtuosity is unshowy but intricate, as the melodic lines interweave and interact; the acoustic purity is unsullied by electronics. Moreover, this is neither a field recording nor a formal concert, but something deliciously in between: listen on a cold winter night, and feel the sun reaching in. --Michael Church