Various Artists: Divas of Mali

Divas of Mali (Shanachie 64078; 72:28) is, as the title implies, more focused in scope than the other collections, and more concentrated in its appeal. Mali has produced some rich, intense music, including Salif Keita, and the new album highlights the bold gifts of female vocalists. They’re backed by traditional instrumentation of kora, balaphon and the ngoni guitar, as well as western pop instruments, but the main attraction here is the powerful, melismatic presence of such Mali vocalists as the queenly Fanta Damba, the fledgling Hadja Soumano, Mogoya and Djugu Magni.