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From the heart of Mali
on 3 June 2013
This 2005 Grammy-winner featured the late, great blues guitarist Ali Farka Toure (no. 76 in Rolling Stone's table of the `Greatest Guitarists of All Time') who died in 2006 of bone cancer; and Kora player Toumani Diabate.
Both these excellent musicians are from Mali (though from different regions and traditions) and the album was recorded in a mobile studio in the Hotel Mande in Bamako, on the banks of the River Niger. The great world music enthusiast and promoter Ry Cooder also plays on some tracks.
The music is mainly instrumental, quite sophisticated and very mellow. In the manner of world-class jazz musicians Toure and Diabate (and Cooder, at times) respond to each other to weave delicate improvisational patterns and make great relaxing music.
This album can be recommended if you like West African music or even if you don't know the music from Mali very well. There was a follow-up album from these two simply called `Ali Farka Toure and Toumane Diabate' recorded in London just prior to Toure's death which is so outstanding it eclipses even `In the Heart of the Moon', and for that reason only I would give four-and-a-half stars to ItHotM rather than five.
The CD is a fine package with a tasteful 16-page booklet featuring short essays about the project penned by Lucy Duran, Nick Gold and separately by both Diabate and Toure, and decorated with some evocative and rather arty images of Mali.