Kaira (4.5*)


Twenty-five years after it appeared there’s not a lot that can be said about Toumani Diabaté’s first solo album except that it was cut in a single session, live and unaccompanied in a London studio in October 1987. 

You could, I suppose, set about listing the tracks, all five of them  (Alla L'Aa Ke, Jarabi, Kaira, Konkoba, Tubaka) or say something bout their lengths (5:04 to 10:26) or mutter something about forty and a bit minutes of quite sublime music from a master of the 21-string West African harp-lute known as a kora

Alternatively, you could mention the fact that Toumani comes from a line of seventy-plus masters of the instrument, and that Joe Boyd landed on this way ahead on the rest of us (released on his Hannibal label in 1988). 

After that, you probably scratch your head and do what I’m inclined to do late at night with a glass of good red by my side and a book that needs to be read, pondered and digested. 

Which is, of course, to press the play button again for another run through these five sublime instrumentals on an album I’m never likely to tire of.

© Ian Hughes 2012