Acclaimed Malian group Trio Da Kali and revolutionary string ensemble Kronos Quartet’s first collaborative studio album, Ladilikan, is out now via World Circuit Records. In support of the new record, Trio Da Kali will perform select shows in North America this fall including stops in Chicago, Seattle, Montreal and more. See below for a current tour itinerary. Ladilikan has already been the subject of early critical praise:

“A stunning record.” –WNYC

“A natural and effortless blend of disparate musical traditions.” –KCRW

“True magic...With this album, though, any limits to the exciting combination
of these creative forces have not even been revealed—if there are any.” –89.3 KPCC, Take Two

“A fascinating collision of traditions.” –Chicago Reader

“Creating a new musical expression that blends elements of two traditions is much harder than it sounds. To actually dig in and collaborate takes an open mind and peerless musicianship, two things that both the Trio Da Kali and the Kronos Quartet have in rich supply.” –Stereophile

“A melodic, fairytale union…Trio Da Kali and the Kronos Quartet feel like a match made in heaven, musical soulmates who found each other even thousands of miles away.” –Popmatters

“A marvelous blend.”
–Bandcamp Daily

The new album represents a landmark in cultural cross-fertilization and David Harrington, who founded Kronos Quartet in 1973, remarks that the album is “one of the most beautiful Kronos has done in forty years.” On first hearing their signature griot sound being played by two violins, viola and cello, Trio da Kali’s Fodé Lassana Diabaté proclaimed, “This is going to be the best collaboration of my life.”

A translation of the trio’s name, Da Kali, means “to give a pledge”—in this case to a musical heritage that dates back to the time of Sunjata Keita, founder of the great Mali empire in the early 13th century. The lineup of balafon (xylophone), bass ngoni (lute) and female singer is also based on ancient tradition, although the trio format and its repertoire is now an endangered species in contemporary Malian music.

All three Da Kali members come from hereditary musical families and were brought together as a griot super group by Dr. Lucy Duran on behalf of the Aga Khan Music Initiative (AKMI), which has an admirable track-record of commissioning and producing a variety of projects involving traditional musicians. Balafon player and musical director Lassana Diabaté was a long-time member of Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra and has recorded with Salif Keita, Taj Mahal and many others. A musician of great subtlety and invention, he has honed a virtuoso two-balafon technique to perfection. Bass ngoni player Mamadou Kouyaté is the eldest son of the instrument’s greatest exponent, Bassekou Kouyaté and he holds down the groove in his father’s band Ngoni ba. He is also involved in the thriving Bamako hip-hop scene. Singer Hawa ‘Kassé Mady’ Diabate is the daughter of Mali’s greatest traditional singer, Kassé Mady Diabate, and the power, range and phrasing of her voice led Harrington to compare her to the late queen of American gospel, Mahalia Jackson.

The Kronos Quartet, composed of Harrington and John Sherba on violin, Hank Dutt on viola, and cellist Sunny Yang have built an enviable reputation as the world’s most adventurous string quartet. Known for their commitment to continually re-imagining the string quartet experience, Kronos have released over 60 records of extraordinary breadth and creativity and they are no strangers to collaborations with some of the world’s foremost composers and artists. For this project, Kronos turned to the American composer and their frequent collaborator Jacob Garchik to arrange Trio da Kali’s repertoire. Combining the spirit of fearless exploration with expert craftsmanship and skill, Trio Da Kali’s original repertoire has been taken on a fascinating journey, giving a new voice to timeless sounds.

For more information, please contact Nick Mallchok, Krista Williams, or Carla Sacks at Sacks & Co., 212.741.1000.

1. Tita
2. Kanimba
3. Eh Ya Ye
4. Garaba Mama
5. God Shall Wipe All Tears Away
6. Samuel
7. Lila Bambo
8. Kene Bo
9. Ladilikan
10. Sunjata


September 20-21 /// Chicago, IL /// World Music Festival
September 22-23 /// Albuquerque, NM /// Globalquerque
September 27 /// Atlanta, GA /// Red Light Café
September 29-30 /// Bloomington, IN /// Lotus Festival
October 1-2 /// Nelsonville, OH /// Stuart’s Opera House
October 5 /// Seattle, WA /// Washington Hall
October 6 /// Vancouver, BC /// St. James Hall
October 7 /// Mt. Vernon, WA /// Skagit University
October 10 /// Tacoma, WA /// Arts Northwest
October 12 /// Quebec, QC /// Palais Montcalm
October 13 /// Montreal, QC /// Club Balattou
October 14 /// Toronto, ON /// Aga Khan Foundation

Trio Da Kali was created by the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.