Taj Mahal And Toumani Diabate :: Kulanjan

In 1999 American bluesman Taj Mahal teamed up with Malian kora master Toumani Diabate -- together they recorded the transformative and meditative beauty that is Kulanjan. Named after a track from the 1970 album of kora music,  Ancient Strings, by Toumani Diabaté's father Sidiki Diabate, the two bridge their geographical distance and musical styles by seamlessly blending the gruff and somewhat weary vocals of Mahal, mellower and more nostalgic in his picking, and the hypnotic calm of Diabate’s kora, an otherworldly sound in and of itself.

The pair are joined by a group of transcendent Malian musicians, including Toumani’s descendant, Kassé-Mady Diabaté, and the late Ramata "Rah" Diakité on vocals. Diakité (who would die ten years later at the tragic age of thirty-three), has an especially stirring performance on the re-creation of Mahal’s 1977 “Queen Bee.” Transforming the original’s loose AM island vibes into something far more gentle and hushed, it finds Mahal and Diabate’s strings mingling amongst Diakité’s angelic improvised vocals, intertwining with Mahal’s world-worn blues of a voice — it’s a piece that stands entirely on its own. An album opener that immediately transports you in the world of these musicians and the palpable spiritual bond that was formed while creating this music. “Sweeter than a honey bee,” indeed.

Taj Mahal And Toumani Diabate :: Take This Hammer

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