Recordings of renowned African players go back at least as far as 1970. The first CD album totally devoted to the kora, Mali: Cordes anciennes, was recorded by Sidiki Diabaté and Djelimadi Sissoko. Sidiki Diabaté was the father of Toumani Diabaté, and Djelimadi Sissoko was the father of Ballaké Sissoko. As a tribute to their fathers, they recorded together their New Ancient Strings – Nouvelles Cordes Anciennes in 1999.
Over recent decades many kora players have made recordings both in their home countries and in western countries, where their music has been well received. Perhaps, for me, the most notable recording has been The Mandé Variations by Toumani Diabaté. It was recorded in 2008, twenty years after his first recording. This studio album recording of solo kora has traditional pieces on a kora with leather rings, and his own creations with special tuning on a kora with wooden pegs. If you like kora instrumental music and have not yet had the opportunity to hear this, we can recommend that you look for this perhaps more than any other. One of the tracks entitled “Cantelowes” from the album, is included in the of videos below.
Many audio recordings are available and provide much pleasure for listening, but to capture the atmosphere and spirit of the playing of this instrument, it is better to watch and listen to some videos. We have selected some that have good audio and video quality. Most are instrumental recordings of Malian koras and players, but we have added Seckou Keita, the master player from Senegal, who sometimes plays the double kora. Last, but not least, is the first female player from a jali family, Sona Jobarteh, who is from The Gambia and is a cousin of Toumani Diabaté.
Last updated: 2017-09-29 @ 10:54:46
Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté perform "Debe", from their first album "In the heart of the moon".
Filmed at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, in 2005.
Toumani Diabaté performs "Cantelowes" from the album "The Mandé Variations"
live at El Real Alcázar, Seville, Spain.