Saturday, 23 January 2016

World music : Toumani & Sidiki Diabaté Chalon-sur-Saône

September 2016 the new brochures for the concert series season 2015-2016 became available. In the Netherlands we were kind of spoilt, as we have found out now; Rotterdam, Amsterdam and The Hague have all more or less prestigious concert halls, offering each year e relatively big number of classical, jazz or world music concerts.

Vader en zoon Diabaté - Internet
Of course scale is an important factor when comparing the cultural volume of Burgundy and the Western part of the Netherlands. Rotterdam has a population of approx. 600 000, and the biggest town around here, Chalon-sur-Saône, boasts only 50 000. Not to mention places like Mâcon (35 000), Montceau-les-Mines (20 000), Le Creusot (25 000) or the centre of our universe Cluny (5 000).
Series like "Great Masters of the Piano" with e.g. Brendel are not likely to take place around here. And for the equivalent of the North Sea Jazz Festival one has to travel to Antibes Juan Les Pins or Montreux.
In order to find something interesting one must look for it. In the Chalon brochure I found a concert by 2 Malinese kora players, who had some very interesting Youtube files on the internet once I started looking for it.

Vader en zoon Diabaté - Internet
Hence we decided to give it a try; we bought tickets and were expecting some sort of folk music concert in one of the small halls of the theatre. But also this time we were pleasantly surprised. Not only was the (big) hall chock-a-block full (we estimated about 800 man), but the two African gentlemen (father and son) turned out to be a pair of excellent musicians. The kora happens to be an African harp with a peculiar sound; its body is made of half a calabash, and all other parts making up the kora (strings, pegs, etc.) were originally made of parts (bones, teeth, skin) of the gazelle. It turned out to be a very interesting concert, where I could easily suppress my built-in aversion against the (classical) harp as a solo-instrument.

Michael Palin's Sahara - Internet
Only once we reached home I found out that we had not been watching some obscure African musicians, but that both men had actually won their spurs at big international festivals (Glastonbury, Roskilde, Brighton) where they managed to draw huge crowds. That might also explain the use of a wah-wah pedal in the last tune they played. Over and above that, my son, who has an amazing memory, neatly explained that we had seen Toumani Diabaté in 2002 in an episode of Michael Palin's "Sahara". Remark noted….

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