While kora players are generally known for their adherence to tradition, Toumani Diabate is widely celebrated for his distinctly progressive take on the instrument. Ever open to unorthodox collaborations, and to working in the context of blues, jazz, and flamenco, Diabate seems intent on achieving a kind of hybrid-happy liftoff from the previous 70 generations of kora players in his lineage -- not so much released from, but rather fueled by their combined history. He appears for four nights in a duet with none other than American banjo icon Bela Fleck. No stranger to free-for-all fusion himself, of course, Fleck, in a sense, has lately been on a quest to reconcile with his own musical ancestry by exploring the West African origins of the banjo. In that regard, the kora, which is often traditionally accompanied by banjo precursors like the akonting and ngoni, certainly represents the right instrumental choice. But Diabates adventurousness makes him the perfect foil and spiritual co-pilot for Flecks higher purpose. Long revered for his technicality, Fleck is now out to capture the ancient soul of the blues. All ages.
Mon., Aug. 10, 7:30 p.m.; Tue., Aug. 11, 7:30 p.m., 2009