In the Heart of the Moon

An unrehearsed improvisational collaboration between the well-known Malian guitarist and the Guinean master of the kora—a 21-stringed lute. The album was recorded live in a hastily put together studio in the Hotel Mandé, Bamako, overlooking the Niger River. Although both artists were deeply aware of each other’s music, they’d never played together prior to this recording, and the empathetic interaction between the two of them is remarkable. The result is a casebook on rhythmic fingerpicking with the themes stated and restated, flowing into and out of each other in a call-and-response dialogue. Diabaté’s kora has the largest part; it’s lyrical, melodical and richly insistent. But the interplay between the two masters is the thing—insistently and calmly flowing, always there, like the river itself.