"Piano meets Kora - African Dialogues"

Tata Dindin - voice/ kora
Hans Lüdemann - piano/ clavichord

The Kora harp is a symbol of the great musical tradtion of West Africa, such as the piano embodies the European tradition. Both these traditions come together in the collaboration of Tata Dindin, Kora master from Gambia, and Hans Lüdemann, piano virtuoso from Germany. Aside from the piano, Lüdemann also uses its ancestor, the clavichord and thus relates back to Johann Sebastian Bach, father of all keyboard playing. Tata Dindin is not only a virtuoso of the Kora, but also a gifted vocalist.

Tata Dindin The premiere of the Duo took place in spring of 1997 in Dakar, Senegal. During Lüdemanns concert tour, organized by the German Goethe Institute, both musicians met in concerts that found enthusiastic reception. The basis of a contiuing and intensive collaboration in Europe was set.
This live set is the complete recording of a concert in August of 1999 at the "Stadtgarten" in Köln, Germany, as part of the POPKOMM Festival.

Tata Dindin is a "Griot". This means that through his father and forefathers he stands in one line with the great masters of traditional African music, song and historic tradition. His instrument, the Kora, is an African harp with 21 strings. The Griots in Africa are regarded as healers. Music as a healing force, music with soul - this is a level, on which Lüdemann and Dindin have immediately connected.

Lüdemann has a special relation with Africa and its music that has developed over many years through personal relations and extensive journeys. Musically this interest expressed itself first on his solo CD "the natural piano", where he incorporates African themes and motives. Lüdemann has transduced African music to the piano and combines this with his artistry of improvisation, that he has already demonstrated in many other musical situations such as his work with Paul Bley or Jan Garbarek. Based on European polyphony and African polyrhthm Lüdemann has developed his own style of music and piano playing "a recognizable language of his own" as the FAZ writes.

Tata Dindin is since his Solo-CD "Salam" one of the most prolific players of the Kora. He not only embodies the tradtion, but also transports the Kora into our time. He also electrifies his instrument and has even been regarded the "Jimi Hendrix of the Kora."
In their duo program, Lüdemann and Dindin relate to the traditional Kora repertoire. But, more than that, they have developed compositions for this setup that goes far beyond that and which include elements of both European music and improvisation. Their music is flowing and unpretencious. It has a mellow and meditative flavour that is far from all "New Age"- Muzak.

Astonishing is, how well the sound of piano and Kora blend. One explanation could be, that both are string instruments. But also their musical function ist similar. Both are the instrument of the musical designers, the conductors and composers. Both instruments can be soloist, accompanist and foundation at the same time. Even more perfect is the blend of Kora and Clavichord. The timbres of both instrument are so similar, that sometimes they can hardly be seperated from each other. But in their combination they create a broad range of fresh musical colors.

Both musicians are almost the same age and have had an international career with concerts, CD- radio and tv-productions in the whole world. With their collaboration they are opening up a new perspective for their instruments, for us, for themselves and for the music.

Tata Dindin & Hans Lüdemann
"Piano meets Kora - African Dialogues"
live at Stadtgarten, Cologne.
RISM-Edition 2000

Press review

CD Tata Dindin/ Hans Lüdemann "piano meets kora" live
"Tata Dindin is another Diabaté, son of Malamini Diabaté from Brikama in the Gambia. His CD with German pianist Hans Lüdemann is, apart from the closing track, a live concert recording and the pairing works extremely well, the piano often managing the flourishes that you'd expect from a second kora on the Tata-originated tracks, whilst the Kora sometimes taking on a role something akin to a harpsichord or classical harp on Lüdemann's own more floral compositions (...). It's an interesting and fulfilling project that pushes the boundaries a bit."
Folk-Roots Magazine May 2000

Ebraima "Tata Dindin" Jobarteh

Ebraima "Tata Dindin" Jobarteh, the oldest son of the kora master Malamini Jobarteh, was born in Brikama, the Gambia in 1965. When he was six years old, his father built him his first kora and began to teach him. The legendary Al Hadj Bai Konte was still alive then and, until his death, he helped to train his grandson. Apart from learning the traditional repertoire, Ebraima Jobarteh was also interested in the modern yenyengo school of kora music and extended his training under Jaliba Kuyate, the innovator of Gambian kora music, from whom he learned composition, arrangement and lyrics. Whereas the older jali concentrate entirely on upholding th traditional repertoire and singing songs of praise, the young musicians ot theyenyengo school play contemporary pieces and new arragements of classic pieces. Their music is intended to encourage dancing.

Under the name of Tata Dindin, Ebraima Jobarteh soon became a star in his home country. His lyrics tell of the changes in traditional society, explain the reasons for innoculation campaigns and describe the work of the Red Cross, urging his young listeners not to leave the "True path". Together with his Salam band, which accompagnies his electrically amplified kora playing, he performs as many as two or three concerts every day, as he has done for the last six years. He has toured schools throughout the country to convince the younger generation of the topical importance of the kora. For the young people of the Gambia, in particular, Tata Dindin is a hero who has revolutionised traditional music and is regarded as one of the country's most experimental musicians. His per-formances are colourful: his technique of using the amplifier as an instrument (feedback!) and the acrobatic kora on his back or with his teeth, are reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix. But Tata Dindin also likes to play aucoustically. On his first CD "Tata Dindin: Salam - New Kora Music" (published in 1994) he presents his own compositions and arrangements of classical kora pieces.

The Kora
The Kora is unique to Africa and, like the hunters harps of the Bambara and Djola, with which it is sometimes confused, it belongs to the family of the harp. Together with the balo (balofon), it is the classical instrument of the Mandingo jali and is regarded as the "instrument of kings". The body consists of a half gourd or calabash covered with cowhide. A wooden rod is pushed through the body to which strings are attached. Formerly strips of leather or gut, today they are made of nylon.

We can be fairly certain that the kora was played in the kingdom of Kaabu (now Guinea-Bissau) in the early 19th century and that it spread from there. Until then, the kontingo (Wolof: xalam, Bambara: ngoni), a short-necked lute with leather bands and between one and five strings, was the most commonly used stringed instrument.

The 21 strings of the kora are plucked with both thumbs and index fingers, while the other fingers hold the instrument steady. Four of the strings are bass strings and are beaten with the left thumb. The remaining 17 strings are tuned in the heptatonic mode. The most common kora voice, tomora ba, sounds very similar to our major keys, which may be one reason for the astonishing popularity of kora music in Europe. The hardino derived from the tomora ba is very popular in the Gambia. The intervals between the second and third and the sixth and seventh tone are expanded here. A virtuoso kora player is able to play the melody, embellishments and bass line at the same time. In doing so, he beats rhythmically with the index fingers on the instrument, creating a percussion accompaniment. Tata Dindin, who builds his own kora, uses an instrument with 22 strings, i.e. with an additional bass string.