Madina N'Diaye plays an elegant kora.
A former student of Toumani Diabaté, a former member of Lo'Jo, now with a group of her own, Madina N'Diaye plays an elegant kora. The publicity around her likes to point out that she went blind in 2002 after an eye infection but musically that's about as relevant as Diabaté's damaged leg. There's no way you'd guess it from her playing. She's incisive, quick, unhesitating. "Sparkling" wrote Nigel Williamson in the British Times. She doesn't follow the style of her mentor, which tends to be either grand (the Symmetric Orchestra) or spare (the Mandé Variations). Her road is more of a middle road, without obvious experiments, in pursuit of the destination you could call Modern Mali Traditional, the same destination pursued by Salif Keita and Oumou Sangaré. The album works both as a series of songs and as a long extrapolation of the kora, its ability to go from delicate to stately to rapid, and the way it sounds when you put it next to a balafon, a chorus, or a single voice.