Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews

Mamadou Diabate – Courage – World Village

All instrumental album, in the African tradition of the kora—to my ears the most beautiful-sounding African instrument.

Published on August 2, 2013

Mamadou Diabate – Courage – World Village 468108 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:

(Mamadou Diabate, kora; Abou Sissoko, ngoni; Noah Jarrett, acoustic bass; Lansana Fode Diabate, balaphone; Adama Diarra, calabash)

Winner of the 2009 Grammy award for Best Traditional World Music, Mamadou Diabate takes kora playing in a contemporary direction with his CD titled Courage. Descended from a distinctive musical lineage in Mali, Diabate takes guidance from this quote in the CD liner notes: “… kora tradition has always put a premium on holding on to the old ways while constantly innovating and developing the art.”

In Diabate’s hands, the harp-like kora fits in jazz composition (“Macky”), evokes hypnotic cross-cultural mystique (“Kora Journey”), maintains tradition (“Kita Djely”), and becomes an amazingly versatile stringed instrument. Courage stands as a musical testament to the guidance contemporary musicians such as Diabate receive from the “old ways.” The album’s lack of vocals is actually a strength – it allows the music to speak for itself.  Diabate is joined by a world-class crew.

Yaka Yaka, Welcome Home, Dafina, Humanity, Macky, Kora Journey, Kita Djely, Laban Djoro, Diayeh Bana, Birigo Blues, Bogna

—Mark Woodlief

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