Top of the World: Lobi Traoré – Bwati Kono Vol 1

Posted on October 6th, 2013 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

Words by Nigel Williamson

Lobi Traore - In The Club - Vol 1 - sleeve artworkGuitar legend at his best in the hot, sticky Bamako nightclubs

The death of Lobi Traoré in 2010 at the age of 49 deprived the Malian music scene of a blues guitarist whose streetwise, rootsy playing was one of the glories of Bamako’s after-hours nightlife. If his studio recordings never quite captured his kinetic energy, these live recordings made in a city nightclub shortly before his death are the real deal. The opener ‘Makono’ showcases not only Lobi’s keening voice but his brilliant backing band, who lock into a simmering groove that creates the perfect sound-bed for his fulgent, improvised solos. The fuzzbox of ‘Banan Ni’ suggests the influence of Jimi Hendrix. The loping ‘Saya’ is a more traditional slice of pentatonic Bambara blues, before the tempo picks up again, setting the pulse racing, on ‘Mali Ba’. Then there’s ‘Maya Gasi Ka Bon’, a slow-burning, nine-minute tour de force in which his soloing builds to incendiary proportions.

Overall, the album could be criticised for a few imperfections and indulgences that untampered live recordings often betray. But that’s hardly a problem: a small, sweaty club with strings going out of tune was always the best environment in which to experience Lobi’s unique magic.




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