Kassé-Mady Diabaté is one of Mali's most revered jelis -- the term griot is used in other parts of Africa. Music and history are his vocations and his inheritance. And he's certainly a musical veteran, with a career that dates back over 30 years. Remarkably, this is just his third solo disc, although he's collaborated with others, including on Kulanjan. But on the basis of this, it's to be hoped he'll be recording on a regular basis. Made completely live, this is Diabaté backed by acoustic instruments, offering the real, raw griot deal. It's wonderful to hear a new version of "Fode" (here called "Kaba Mansa"), while the two Cuban-inflected pieces, "Maimouna" and "Balomina Mwanga," hark back to Diabaté's early days singing with Los Maravillas de Mali in the 1970s. He also takes listeners deep into tradition with "N'I Ma Sori," an old hunters' song. The playing is stellar throughout (listen to "Funuke Saya," where the great kora player Toumani Diabate sits in, along with ngoni master Basekou Kouyate). Kassi Kasse is a remarkable piece of work.
AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson