Posts Tagged ‘ali farka toure’

Exclusive: New Sidi Touré track

Posted on August 30th, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

Sidi Guitare 02

Words by Gus Isherwood

A sneak peek into Sidi Touré’s upcoming album

The Malian Songhaï singer and guitarist Sidi Touré has often been compared to his legendary fellow countryman, the late Ali Farka Touré, and has now won the national Malian best singer award twice. He’ll be touring the US this fall with the Grammy-nominated Cajun musician Cedric Watson before embarking on his own headlining tour in Spring 2014.

Listen to ’Ay Hôra’ from his upcoming album Alafia (released on September 16):

Confirmed tour dates:

Sat Oct 19th Utrecht, Netherlands – Rasa – tickets
Thu Oct 24th Cardiff, UK – WOMEX
Fri Oct 25th London, UK – The Lexington – tickets 

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The Top 25 Mali Albums – No.1

Posted on July 17th, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté – Ali and Toumani (World Circuit, 2010)

It should come as little surprise that our list is topped by the sublime collaboration between the two most significant names in Malian music over the past quarter of a century. The individual recordings of both Toumani Diabaté and Ali Farka Touré feature high in the upper echelons of our list. But together they proved to be an unbeatable combination at number one. 

Had they not made this second recording together, the accolade might easily have gone to their first collaboration, 2005’s Grammy-winning collaboration In the Heart of the Moon. Toumani himself hesitates to claim that the second album is a better record than its predecessor. Instead he describes it as ‘stronger and wiser,’ so let us settle for that. By the time the album was recorded in 2005, Ali was already ill with cancer and knew that he was dying. In the Heart of the Moon had been recorded the previous year at Bamako’s Hotel Mande, a romantic location on the banks of the Niger River. The follow-up was recorded over the course of three afternoons in the somewhat more prosaic surroundings of a North London studio and proved that their stringed magic transcended location and required no special circumstances beyond their own mutual inspiration. The diversity and intensity of the musical fantasia the two maestros fashioned together is breathtaking, with Toumani playing in seemingly bolder fashion than on their previous collaboration, as if he knew it was his final opportunity to work with one of Africa’s musical giants. Ali’s playing, too, is imbued with a profound soulfulness, as if he was determined to pour all the sagacity of a lifetime into what he knew would be his final recording. The intuitive understanding between them dips deep into the well of Mali’s rich and vibrant musical history. 

The elegant ‘Ruby’ opens the album, Toumani’s fluid kora arpeggios spilling rapturously over Ali’s pulse-like guitar. ‘Sabu Yerkoy’ is sprightlier, with a gentle vocal from Ali underpinned by a simple, joyous bass line from Cuba’s Cachaito López, who also passed away not long after these recordings.

‘Warbé’, ‘Samba Geladio’ and ‘Machengoidi’ are deep excursions into the desert blues. ‘Bé Mankan’ is full of classical grace and poise, while ‘Doudou’ is more playful. ‘Fantasy’ is a lullaby of exquisite sweetness, while the closer ‘Kala Djula’ is perhaps the album’s most enchanting tune. At the very end of the record, Ali’s voice says simply ‘Eh, voilà.’ It’s a poignant farewell, as if he’s telling us that he’s done his utmost and there’s nothing left to say. He lost his battle against cancer nine months after the recording and the album was not released until 2010, three years after his death in March 2007. As a summit meeting between West Africa’s two mightiest musical masters, it’s a collaboration of virtuosic perfection and understanding, a master class in which the two friends spur, inspire and encourage each other to a creative pinnacle of monumental elevation. ‘Eh, voilà’ indeed. 

Click here to buy the album on Amazon

Click here to download the album on iTunes

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The new July Songlines podcast is now available through iTunes

Posted on June 7th, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

The new July 2013 (#93) podcast is now available on iTunes, and opens with music by Ali Farka Touré from the album Festival in the Desert (IRL). Songlines editor-in-chief, Simon Broughton, plays a bonus track chosen by Mick Jagger, by Peter Tosh, as part of his playlist this issue. 

Features include Nigel Williamson with the top five albums from our 25 Best Mali Albums cover feature, Simon Broughton with a report on the mugham musical tradition from Azerbaijan and Tim Cumming on Frisian singer Nynke. Nathaniel Handy brings you the latest news with an excerpt from Souad Massi and more. The podcast ends with a track by Polish instrument maker Andrzej Król. 

The next Songlines podcast, featuring highlights from the August/September 2013 issue (#94), will be available from July 19 2013.

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Interview with Idan Raichel

Posted on September 4th, 2012 in News by .

The Israeli pianist talks to Clyde Macfarlane about his latest collaboration with Vieux Farka Touré

When Ali Farka Touré travelled to Los Angeles to record with Ry Cooder, it was very much an exploration of the remarkable similarities between these two guitarists. Ali, a Malian, had frequently seen his music categorised as ‘blues’, so this album was in essence a reverse roots trip. Pick a random track off 1994’s Talking Timbuktu and Ali and Ry’s guitar parts sound indistinguishable. Something so instinctively human as to pluck a string under tension, they demonstrated, predates the ancestral displacement in America’s musical history.

Motivations aside, it was perhaps the Grammy award-wining quality of Talking Timbuktu that inspired Ali’s son Vieux to embark on his own cross-cultural project.

He met his eventual collaborator, the Israeli pianist Idan Raichel, by chance whilst waiting in an airport. When does modern life present a better opportunity to bump into someone suitably unfamiliar? A ‘crazy hippy’, was Vieux’s first impression. From Idan’s perspective Vieux Farka Touré, presumably sitting with his tell-tale guitar case, was more than just a fellow musician. “I grew up listening to the great Ali Farka Touré,” Idan tells me proudly. “My piano playing is hugely influenced by Talking Timbuktu. Later I’d invent piano parts to Ali’s earlier works, and try to imitate the kora as closely as possible.” 

In 2010 Vieux travelled to Israel to record The Tel Aviv Session with Idan. Whereas Talking Timbuktu saw Malian and American blues melt into one, The Tel Aviv Session could have been recorded in Mali by an all-Malian band. This is in every way a compliment to Idan’s excellent kora imitation, made by plucking the piano strings with an appropriate speed and grace. Idan explained why absorbing influences comes naturally to an Israeli.

“With the dominance of Vieux’s guitar and the fantastic calabash playing of Souleymane Kane, the session had a deep Malian feel. I see my role as an artist taking music from all over the world and giving it a twist. I don’t see the project as Israeli music but more a collaboration with an Israeli musician. This is the essence of who we are and what we do in Israel. We have a recent history of immigration from all over the world, so it’s difficult to define Israeli food, Israeli cinema or Israeli music. Every few years there is a new immigration that changes the face of our society. The Tel Aviv Session is Malian music as interpreted by an Israeli who instinctively knows how to blend sounds and emphasising melodies.” 

This is the most like Ali that Vieux has sounded to date, thanks largely to a decision to go completely acoustic. Without Vieux’s trademark electric riffs Kane’s calabash is indeed fantastic; from the hypnotic opener ‘Azawade’, the session is a flawless display of Malian percussion. Also present is Israeli bassist Yossi Fine, who produced Vieux’s second album Fondo.

“With acoustic music there is nothing to hide,” says Idan. “The album sounds like what it is – four musicians sitting in a living room having a jam session at 2am. It was a bold concept for Vieux, as he always records with an electric band. He’s been toying with the idea of going acoustic for many years, and I’m glad to have led him in this direction. Going acoustic gave us a higher dynamic range to explore.”

A late highlight to the album is ‘Ane Nahatka’, featuring Tigrit vocals from the Ethiopian Jewish singer Cabra Casey. Her offering represents a passion that goes back a long way for Idan.

“I worked as a councillor in a boarding school for Israeli immigrants. There were many Ethiopian Jewish youths who had come from Addis Ababa, or from refugee camps in Ethiopia’s Begemder region. I saw how they retained the music of Ethiopia to keep alive their identity as new immigrants in Israel. I would walk along the little streets around our boarding school, and this strange, incredibly loud music would come from open windows above.” 

“In class I asked the Ethiopians where I could hear this music live. They took me to some concerts in a downtown area of Tel Aviv. It was just a magical world for me, and its soundtrack captured my heart. I was hugely impressed by Ethiopia’s great vocalists like Mahmoud Ahmed and Gigi, and their acoustic instruments like the krar and the masenqo. Cabra Casey is the lead singer for my main group The Idan Raichel Project, and both Vieux and I were extremely grateful when she agreed to take part in The Tel Aviv Session.” 


The Tel Aviv Session will be released by Cumbancha Records on the September 3 and is a Top of the World in the current issue (October 2012 #87).

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