Watch Damon Albarn Discuss Toumani Diabaté’s Kora Music

Andrew Parks

By Andrew Parks

on 05.28.14 in News

“We’re not going backwards, trying to play just how my father and grandfather did these songs,” explains Toumani Diabaté, referring to the Toumani & Sidiki record the kora player recently cut with his oldest son. “We have to do it our way. We’re modern griots, we live in the city, we’re connected to the world … the past meets the present for the future.”

To bring the deep bloodlines of the Diabaté family to life alongside their influential takes on traditional Malian music, Toumani and Sidiki are playing a week of shows together this fall, beginning with a September 24 stop in Brooklyn and winding down on October 3 in Arlington, VA. In the video below, Damon Albarn — a longtime supporter of West African music through his Honest Jon’s label — breaks down why Toumani just may be the world’s greatest living kora player.

“The extraordinary dexterity and speed of the cadenzas, they wrap you up and cast you out into the universe,” the Blur frontman explains. “When he’s on fire; he’s on fire. He’s a fucking volcano.”

Toumani & Sidiki tour dates:
9/24 Brooklyn, NY – Howard Gilman Opera House @ BAM
9/26 Los Angeles, CA – UCLA Center For The Arts
9/27 San Francisco, CA – Miner Auditorium
9/28 Stanford, CA – Bing Concert Hall
10/1 Durham, NC – Duke University
10/3 Arlington, VA – Spectrum