African Virtuoses: The Classic Guinean Guitar Group
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The Quality Music Project
...If anything, the central charm here is how damn unhurried and relaxed the Diabates sound. Even when they ornament-- and the music is so harmonically and rhythmically simple that it\'s almost all ornament-- it\'s more amble than flash; on the closing \"Solo Virtuose\", Papa Diabate has about seventeen minutes all to himself, so he spreads out, sometimes lapsing into arpeggios alongside brother Sekou for the sake of mutual hypnosis.
Much of Syliphone\'s dance material has a Latin inflection, and even though the Diabates are distinct in their more lyric, acoustic sound, they offer fusions like \"Dembati Galant\", which features kora-- an African harp-- spilling out over ecstatic flamenco whirls. I\'m not sure what kind of imperialistic impressions were at work here, but the notes suggest a popularity of Cuban music at the time, something I\'d associate more closely with Congo and the DRC, where musicians formed their own take on rumba. Whatever and whyever it is, it\'s probably best not to think about it too much, because reasonable, two-chord approximations of infinity\'s bliss are pretty hard to find, and they fumble toward it at least a couple times.
The Diabates were from Guinea, but everyone knows what a porch feels like. Borders aside, there\'s at least a few elegant, universal approaches to simple alchemy, and African Virtuoses-- a bunch of guys with acoustic guitars-- can safely count themselves as one. -Mike Powell, October 10, 2007