24

SUNDAY

Though he is recognized as one of his homeland’s greatest guitarists, Mali’s Djelimady Tounkara has until recently remained largely unknown outside of Africa. Only a few CDs featuring his electric work with his more widely known Super Rail Band have been available in the West. But this masterful picker has finally begun to gather the attention he deserves: Banning Eyre’s 2000 In Griot Time exposed a wider audience to Tounkara’s influence on contemporary African music, and Tounkara’s solo acoustic disc, Sigui, had a U.S. release last year. In his Rail Band days, Tounkara used his quick fingers to create dance-band rhythms that uniquely adapted and merged Malian harp notations with Cuban-rooted electric-guitar playing. Tounkara’s acoustic fretwork is calmer but more majestic, with touches of flamenco and Islamic roots. On this tour, he’ll be offering the unplugged approach, aided by a band adding high-pitched vocal melodies and insistent calabash percussion. Tounkara plays at 6 p.m. on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Grand Foyer. Free. (202) 467-4600. (Steve Kiviat)