Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra

Toumani Diabete is amaster musician from Mali who plays the kora, a sort of harp with two sets of 21 strings. He says he is the 71st generation of his family to play the kora! I’d seen him perform in Chicago once before, as part of Roswell Rudd’s group, but seeing him lead his own group March 22 at the HotHouse was an exceptional pleasure. The music was both intricate (I could hear similiarities to American blues as well as the minimalist patterns of Steve Reich and Philip Glass) and lively. The group got a good number of people dancing by the end of the show. It was especially cool to see the musicians taking part in playful musical exercises, with one musician playing a melody and challening one of the others to repeat it, note for note. Diabete will return to Chicago for a concert in Millennium Park this July.

See my photos of Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra/

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