Songhai – Toumani Diabaté, Juan & Josemi Carmona & Javier Colina

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Widely known as the world’s greatest kora player, Toumani Diabaté revisits Songhai - a collaborative project with members of leading Flamenco band Ketama.

Taking place at the meeting point between Malian music, Flamenco and freewheeling Jazz – with forays into Cuban Rumba, Griot and Spanish popular song – this is so much more than Fusion music: it’s something altogether unique. Ketama’s Juan & Josemi Carmona provide the propulsion, intricately weaving together fiery, driving guitar lines, underpinned by the searching bass of Javier Colina. Embellishing that is the virtuoso kora of Toumani Diabaté, his ferocious improvisational style rich with intense melody.

Diabaté comes from a long line of griot kora players and jalis (a Malian bard), with his musical lineage stretching back over 70 generations. His father, Sidiki Diabaté, was especially influential in showcasing the kora outside of Mali and putting it on the world stage. With this project, Diabaté continues this legacy, finding new contexts for this remarkable instrument to thrive, invent and influence alongside the sizzling Flamenco of Ketama.

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They invited their fans singing “come see us play”. So we did it and enjoyed every single minute of it. Sidestepper brought their Afro-Colombian groove to WOMAD Festival and it was simply “chevere!”   A few minutes later, we witnessed the brilliant 30-year reunion of Songhai – kora king Toumani Diabate with flamenco guitarists…

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