by: Kélétigui Diabaté

Multi-instrumentalist Kélétigui Diabaté is probably best known for his role playing the xylophone-like balafon in Habib Koité's band, although he has an extensive and influential history in Malian music. On this solo outing he teams with various family and friends, including Koité himself (who also offers "friendly musical supervision") and kora genius Toumani Diabaté. There's a great deal of magic here, both in the combinations of instruments and voices (at times). Diabaté's son proves himself a fine balafon player when he appears, and daughter Many shows huge promise as a singer on "Samba Koro." This is a very spare disc, usually stripped down to two instruments, but for all that there's a fullness and complexity to the music, as on "Sontaoula," where Diabaté teams with Djelimady Tounkara from the Super Rail Band, whose flowing, lyrical style is a perfect foil for the balafon. It all closes as a family affair, Diabaté with his son and both his daughters on the low-key "Yafa." Overall, this release might fly under the radar, but it's well worth seeking out. ~ Chris Nickson

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