Mali, 2006, Mande music
Toumani Diabaté’s Symmetric Orchestra – Boulevard de l’Indépendance: Mande music in a big band setting, the 21-string kora the lead instrument in this joyful yet meditative exploration of Malian musical traditions. This collective played together at a nightclub for quite a while before taking their experience and their numbers into the studio to immortalize forever the magic they wove in the wee, small hours. Diabaté, naturally, takes the lead on vocals, too, but he’s got some scorching backing singers bringing that call-and-response passion. The effortless mastery on display here is stunning.