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Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate: In the Heart of the Moon

Nenad Georgievski By

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Mali may be one of the poorest countries in the world, but it surely is one of the richest when it comes to its folklore and tradition. There are places on this planet where music flows like a river and Mali is surely one of those places.

In The Heart of the Moon is a collaboration between guitarist Ali Farka Toure and kora (lute-harp) player Toumani Diabate. Although they belong to different traditions and come from different regions of Mali, the beauty of music bonds these two artists together. Ali Farka Toure is a well-known guitarist whose uniqueness has impressed many of today's musicians, and that has produced many interesting collaborations with even far more interesting results. Historically, the guitar does not originate from Africa, but it is one of the most widespread and most enthusiastically accepted instruments across the continent. On the other hand, Toumani is a griot (musician/teacher/historian) from the Mandinka tradition. He comes from a family of griots with a lineage of 71 generations of kora players. His versatility on the kora has impressed many, and he is considered to be one of the best players on the instrument today.

What they thought would be just a guest appearance by Diabate on a new Toure album exploded into an inspiring jam session that made them think of producing a duet album. The musicians were familiar with the material—both Malian tunes from the '50s and the '60s and past Toure material (the last three tracks: "Kadi Kadi," "Gomni," and "Hawa Dolo")—and they used these tunes as a platform for further improvising. The recording, which was done in an improvised studio at the Hotel Bamako in Mali, was carried out in three two-hour sessions, a rare occurrence these days. The musical interplay is astonishing, especially considering that they never rehearsed before this recording. Just by using a guitar and a kora, with occasional sounds of exclamation by Toure, they have produced mesmerizing and hypnotic music.

Guest appearances feature Ry Cooder on Kawai piano and Ripley guitar, Sekou Kante and Buena Vista Social Club's Cachaito Lopez on bass, and Joachim Cooder and Olalekan Babaola on percussion. Toure and Toumani are genuine masters of the guitar and kora, respectively. They have collided musically and produced music here that is pure and human, simple and beautiful.

Track Listing: Debe; Kala; Mamadou Boutiquier; Monsieur Le Maire De Niafunke; Kaira; Simbo; Ai Ga Bani; Soumbou Ya Ya; Naweye Toro; Kadi Kadi; Gomni; Hawa Dolo.

Personnel: Ali Farka Toure: guitar; Toumani Diabate: kora. Guests include Ry Cooder: Kawai piano and Ripley guitar; Sekou Kante, Cachaito Lopez: bass; Joachim Cooder, Olalekan Babaola: percussion.

Title: In the Heart of the Moon | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: World Circuit

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