From the album ‘The Mande Variations’ on World Circuit Records.
Now in the wake of the Grammy-winning In the Heart of the Moon with Ali Farka Touré and the hard-swinging Boulevard de l’Indépendance with the Symmetric Orchestra, Toumani releases what is probably his most personal album to date. Recorded unaccompanied and entirely without overdubs, ‘The Mandé Variations’ is an African classical album that rocks and swings, that has learnt from Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix, yet remains entirely true to the kora player’s Mandé griot tradition.
If Diabaté’s first solo album, 1987’s Kaira, set the gold standard for modern kora playing, The Mandé Variations moves the story a giant leap forward. While Kaira charmed with its youthful melodic sparkle, the new recording is a moodier, more reflective and altogether more mature work. Meditative, at moments even somber, The Mandé Variations is infused too with a sense of wonder and rapture, expressed through Diabate’s blend of peerless lyricism and mercurial virtuosity.