bentrovato (bentrovato) wrote,

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Fleck and Diabate

I went to the Neighborhood Theatre last night to hear Bela Fleck on banjo and Toumani Diabate (from Mali) on kora. It was just the two of them - no drums, no singing. Each performer did a solo set and then they played together.

Bela gets an amazing amount of music out of the banjo. He was moving up and down the fretboard, using harmonics, and manipulating the tuning keys to slide from one pitch to the next. He achieved intensity in some impromptus, played a Bach transcription (one of the solo violin partitas?) to great effect, and took out a deep-voiced "cello-banjo" to play some Gambian tunes.

The kora was a revelation. Toumani explained that the player maintains a bass figure with his left thumb and a melody with his right thumb. The thumbs strike deep, resonant harp-strings. The two index fingers are used for improvisation. They strike strings with a brighter tone and higher pitch. The player can thus lull the listener and surprise him, lead him on a flight of fancy and return him back to ground. "It's a very spriritual music," he said, and I agreed.
Tags: banjo, bela fleck, kora, toumani diabate
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