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Toumani Diabaté

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Mali (1965 – present)

Toumani Diabaté (born 10 August 1965) is a Malian kora player who has gained international acclaim for his music. He is considered by many to be the world’s finest kora player. He is a versatile performer, being equally at home with the traditional music of Mali as well as with cross-cultural collaborations with flamenco, blues, jazz, and other international styles. He comes from a long family tradition of kora players including his father, Sidiki Diabaté, who recorded the first ever kora album in 1970.

In addition to performing Malian traditional music, Diabaté has also performed and recorded in cross-cultural settings. He has collaborated with flamenco group Ketama, forming a combined group known as Songhai and releasing two recordings: Songhai I and Songhai II. He also released a memorable album with Kulanjan, bridging the gap between African and African American music in collaboration with the American blues musician Taj Mahal. His MALIcool is another, more unusual but nevertheless successful collaboration with the American jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd.

In 2002 Diabaté released the album New Ancient Strings, a collaboration with Ballake Sissoko and in September 2005, he released In The Heart Of The Moon, for which he collaborated with Ali Farka Touré. On 25 July 2006 he released his latest album Boulevard de l’Independence, recorded with his Symmetric Orchestra.

He appeared in 2006 at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, and at the Sziget Festival in Budapest, Hungary.

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