Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th August 2023

Who would have guessed that a chance encounter between buskers in the streets of Bath, England more than a decade ago would lead to a new musical adventure in the 2020s? Amadou Diagne from Senegal and French-American Cory Seznec hit it off that Spring day, planting the seeds of a future collaboration.

Life embarked them on different touki (journey in Wolof, Amadou’s mother tongue), but with the recent support of Arts Council England, Amadou and Cory have been able to see their seedling shoot up into the light. They recorded their debut album Right of Passage (released in 2020) at Real World Studios, and will be returning to the studio in early 2023. Right of Passage is a play on words that alludes to the arduous journey millions embark on to better their lot in these times of hard borders and tall walls (including Amadou’s own difficult passage in the UK), and how people undergo various rites of passage while doing so. It also reflects the more personal musical journeys that Amadou and Cory have been experiencing both together and individually as outliers in their fields.

Despite coming from a griot family of percussionists and praise singers in the Dakar area, Amadou is not your ordinary griot. Though he draws heavily on the traditional music and rhythms of West Africa, since moving to England he has been busy forging his own musical identity as a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. A self-taught kora player – he was prohibited from learning the instrument in Senegal because he did not descend from a line of kora players – and guitarist, he has developed a unique and intricate style to accompany his powerful, rich, high-pitched voice, drawing on his skills as a percussionist. Amadou is a true natural who genuinely loves learning, playing and performing music, delighting in the rhythmic possibilities within the melodies he composes.

Cory, a French-American musician raised in the US and currently based in Paris, casts a large musical net. A fingerstyle guitarist and banjoist, numerous travels and encounters inspired him to tweak and develop his sound. The discovery of African fingerstyle techniques coupled with trips to different African countries (including a three and half year stint in Ethiopia) changed everything. His style became more and more syncopated, polyrhythmic, and cross-pollinated, and his approach less and less academic. After years on the road with various projects, Cory is still ardently focused on creating new, highly original, hybrid music, as evinced by his solo material and of course Touki.

Their next album will be focusing on climate change and environmental activism, drawing together West African fables, current socio-economic and political challenges facing both developing countries and western ones, and from personal stories and experiences to bring awareness to the pressing need for immediate solutions to this giant crisis affecting us all.

As a result, this project is not some producer-driven collaboration, but the original fruit borne of a genuine dream to communicate curiosity, raise important issues, and bring different worlds together through music. Here the kora dances playfully with and around the banjo and the guitar, the calabash and other percussion add powerful, driving beats, and silky voices entrance the listener. The influences are many, and rather than remaining in any one tradition, the touki – the musical voyage itself – is the destination.


“Scintillating…the sequel to Ali Farka Touré & Ry Cooder’s Talking Timbuktu, revisited and enriched with unique kora-banjo-acoustic guitar combinations of a rare elegance.” – Rolling Stone France