On Thu 20 October 2011, Arts Projects Australia and Melbourne Festival present TOUMANI DIABATÉ at State Theatre, Arts Centre, Bookings: Arts Centre 1300 182 183 or Ticketmaster 1300 723 038   www.melbournefestival.com.au or www.theartscentre.com.au 

“A genius of African music, the finest living exponent of the kora.”  THE GUARDIAN

One of the world’s most breathtaking musical talents Toumani Diabaté is coming to Australia this October for the Melbourne Festival, performing his stunningly beautiful album Mandé Variations, his first solo album in over twenty years, alongside works with a three piece band. The Grammy award winning Diabaté is master of the kora, a West African 21 stringed harp, and his extraordinary dexterity and musical genius with this instrument has critics around the globe reaching for superlatives and inspired comparisons to Jimi Hendrix.

“Diabaté is the alchemical genius of the kora, endlessly testing the boundaries and possibilities of his instrument…one of the world’s most innovative musicians.”  DAILY TELEGRAPH

Toumani Diabaté was born in Mali into a family of griots, a hereditary musician/historian caste, and is descended from a line of 71 generations of kora players. A musical prodigy, he began teaching himself the kora at the age of five.  At 19 he toured Africa with the great diva Kandia Kouyate, the best known griot singer in Mali, and at 21 he recorded his first solo album Kaira, still a groundbreaking best seller and one of the finest albums of kora music to date.

Toumani Diabaté is inspired by the symmetry between tradition and modernity, and is influenced by traditional music as well as the likes of James Brown, Otis Redding and Led Zeppelin. Diabaté sees no contradictions in these disparate influences: “The ‘G’ on the kora is the same as ‘G’ on the piano. It’s the same ‘G’ Carlos Santana was playing. The ‘B’ on the kora is the same as the one hip hop people have.” His deep-rooted yet tradition-stretching music recreates the cultural equilibrium of the Mandé Empire in a modern musical context – offsetting traditional and electric guitars with hard-edged sabar drumming, praise-singing and lute-riffing alongside pounding kit drums, with his own rippling kora phrases through it all.

“Diabaté can transcend melodies, spiralling off with flights of intricate fantasy, exploring spaces you thought only existed in the imaginations of the greatest jazz experimentalists.”  MOJO

Diabaté’s 25-year CV includes a string of dazzling albums and trailblazing collaborations with internationally renowned musicians including Björk, the London Symphony Orchestra, British rocker Damon Alborn, and Blues legends Taj Mahal and fellow Malian Ali Farka Touré.  Toumani and Ali Touré received Grammys for their brilliant collaborative albums In the Heart of the Moon and Ali and Toumani. After refining and perfecting his technique to an unparalleled level, Diabaté returned to solo work with the 2008 release of the superb all-acoustic album Mandé Variations.

A master of his art, don’t miss this opportunity to experience a magnificent and spellbinding performance from Toumani Diabaté, revered godfather of African music.

Toumani Diabaté will also play at the Womad Earth Station Festival.

Read an interview with Toumani Diabate on the latest AfricanOZ in Print Spring 2011 issue.

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