Toumani Diabaté is the uncontested master of the kora (West African
harp-lute). 2006 saw Toumani and his band the Symmetric Orchestra burst onto
the international scene with their critically acclaimed debut album and
first ever European tours. Spring 2007 sees them make their debut tour of
the United States, giving new audiences the first opportunity to catch this
phenomenal group live.
Hot on the heels of the GRAMMY winning ‘In the Heart of the Moon’ with Ali
Farka Touré was ‘Boulevard de l'Indépendance’, Toumani Diabaté’s most
extraordinary album to date. A super-charged, traditional-meets-modern
dance-band album, it unites the two sides of this remarkable musical
personality – the virtuosic traditionalist and the restless innovator– in
one seething pot of rhythm.
Over the past 10 years, the Symmetric Orchestra have been channeling their
creative energies into their pulsating live shows held every Friday night at
Bamako’s Hogon club. The aim of the Symmetric Orchestra is to musically
recreate the Mandé Empire that stretched across West Africa, to revive a
cultural space that included Guinea, Senegal, Burkino Faso, the Ivory Coast,
and had Mali at its heart. Toumani’s concept is to mix the authentic,
traditional with a modern outlook, with the name Symmetric showing that the
balance between the elements is even, with each instrument contributing
equally to the flow. The group has an ever evolving line-up, and is
cross-generational, mixing up traditional songs with new arrangements, and
vice versa, so ‘everything ends up with a new spin’.
The Symmetric Orchestra are a band at the height of their powers, and in
their leader Toumani Diabaté they have one of the world’s great musicians
keen to share his musical vision with the world. These shows are bound to be
an electrifyingly compulsive experience, and are not to be missed.