Born into a family of griots, a caste of West African poets and musicians, Toumani Diabaté was 5 when he first picked up the kora. After teaching himself the 21 string harp, the boy eventually joined a music ensemble with which he made his public debut. On the heels of a 1986 European tour accompanying fellow Malian singer Ousmane Sacko, Diabaté made the most of a lenghty London stay to record his first solo album. He soon took on a string of eclectic projects, all the while helping bring West Africa's fecund musical traditions to a broader audience with the help of Bassekou Koutayé and Ballake Sissoko. The kora master also collaborated with bluesman Taj Mahal, free jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd or banjoist Béla Fleck, among others. 2010 saw the release of Ali and Toumani, a collaboration with the late great Ali Farka Touré recorded four years prior.