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World Music CD Reviews Africa

BOUBACAR DIEBATE AND DIALY KOUNDA

By TOM ORR
Published April 7, 2006

Kambeng
Bantaba

The celestially rustic tones of the kora, a 21-stringed West African harp/lute, arguably sound as good in progressive settings as traditional ones. Boubacar Diebate’s music belongs in the former. Along with players Foday Musa Suso and Kaouding Cissoko, Diebate puts the kora front and center in songs with arrangements designed to move the body and edify heart and spirit. Though based in Boulder, Colorado, Diebate comes from a long line of Senegalese griots. This album, according to the brief liner notes, is his “contribution to the establishment of peace and love between all people.” While there’s no printed lyrics or explanations as to what the songs are about, the nine tracks mix Afro-pop, reggae and sharp symbiosis of modern with folkloric. Drum set and djembe lock the beat as the alternately full and sparse kora tones are supported by guitar, bass, recurring saxophone and rich vocals, befitting Diebate’s griot status. From the opening paean “Africa” to the elegant “Saya,” this array of tribal stompers scores.