Amjad Ali Khan




Emel Mathlouthi

Flaco Jimenez & Max Baca

GlobeSonic Sound System

Hector Del Curto

Hermeto Pascoal

Huun Huur Tu

Karsh Kale

La Bottine Souriante

Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares

Les Yeux Noirs

Los de Abajo

Midival Punditz

Paris Combo


The Manganiyar Seduction


Toumani was born in 1965 in Bamako, Mali into a family of griots. Fame has come not from just his virtuosity – and no one can match Toumani for sheer dexterity – it is the incredible soulfulness, a lyricism he brought to the music, and has subsequently captured so beautifully on his albums and live performances.

Toumani first came to the UK in 1986 to accompany another Malian singer, Ousmane Sacko, and came back in 1987, staying in London for seven months. During this period, at the age of 21, he recorded his first solo album – "Kaira". This was a groundbreaking album – it was the first instrumental album featuring one kora, and he recorded it effortlessly without retakes in a single afternoon in a London studio. It remains a best seller and one of the finest albums of kora music to date.

His first major collaboration, with the Spanish flamenco group Ketama, came about largely by coincidence. Toumani had been invited to play at a party in London in 1988, and Ketama were also there. Immediately they began doing ‘palmas’ (interlocked flamenco clapping) to his music. Toumani was amazed – he couldn’t believe that that they could have such an understanding of the rhythmic complexities of his music.  

In the early 1990s, now back in Bamako, Toumani began to gather around him a number of exceptionally talented young musicians such as the brilliant Bassekou Kouyate on the ngoni, and cultivating a certain sound and approach to his music – with a type of jazz-jugalbandi-griot instrumental ensemble which can be heard on his album "Djelika" (as in the piece “Kandjoura”). This was a period in Mali when synthesizers, electric guitars and drum programmes were all the rage, but Toumani steadfastedly held out for an all- acoustic sound, finding other ways of modernizing the tradition.

Over the past decade he has gradually built up his audience in Mali and abroad. At home he has been one of the most influential musicians, showing the way forward to the new generation. This is the spirit that he brought to the project "Kulanjan", a wonderful, uplifting and deep collaboration with bluesman Taj Mahal, whom he nicknamed ‘Daddy Kouyate’.

This is indeed what Toumani is so good at – bringing together the old and new in timeless beautiful music, the very best that Africa has.


Eye For Talent, Toumani Diabate  12/05/05
>> read bio


The Americas


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Toumani Diabate & The Symmetric Orchestra

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view full Performance History


UK Gaurdian, Ali Farka Toure and Touhami Diabate Live  07/02/05
>> read review

UK Gaurdian, 'We are all brothers'  06/17/05
>> read review

All About, New Ancient Strings review  12/05/03
>> read review

Roots World, Malicool review  07/05/02
>> read review


Toumani Diabate & The Symmetric Orchestra

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