10 August 1965, Bamako, Mali. Descended from a long line of musicians, Diabatés father Sidiki was responsible for introducing the kora (a 21-string cross between a lute and a harp) into Mali in the 50s. Toumani took up the kora from a young age and taught himself how to play. He developed a style of playing that, while being strongly rooted in the Malian tradition, was also open to a wide range of other influences (such as jazz and flamenco). He has subsequently sought out other musicians from around the world who are willing to experiment, even performing a concert in Amsterdam with a classical harpist. His 1989 debut Kaira made history as the first ever solo kora album to be released. Stark, haunting and full of breathtaking improvisational flourishes, it made him a star in his homeland and a sought-after performer internationally. In the same year, Songhai, a highly acclaimed collaboration between Diabaté and musicians from Spain and Britain,...