Category Archive 'Ali Farka Toure'

24 Apr 2018

Blues from Timbuktu?

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Ali Farka Touré with Ry Cooder – Ai Du

Martin Scorsese included Ali Farka Touré in the first episode of his Blues: A Musical Journey documentary, Feel Like Going Home, identifying Touré’s music as the “DNA of the blues.” And Dan Melnik blows a gasket:

[Y]ou wouldn’t refer to Robert Johnson’s music as southern rock and roll, Touré’s music is not desert blues. It’s Malian music with deep roots in the musical culture of his home country.

The music that Touré drew from predates the modern blues by over a thousand years. To equate it with a more familiar, more American style of music is to marginalize it. That comparison robs us of any chance to explore the older musical traditions less familiar to people outside of Africa. …

Touré’s collaborations with Malian griot Toumani Diabaté are more instructive around where his music comes from. Diabaté plays the 21-stringed kora, providing a historical lineage of stringed instrument music in Mali.

So much of Touré’s guitar music is there: the drones, the hypnotic repeating patterns, all of it accented by grandiose flourishes. …

Niafunké, the town in Mali that Touré called home, is in the middle of the landlocked country. The capital Bamako is in the southwest, and farther north and east you get into Saharan Africa. It is a cultural crossroads, something reflected in the many languages of Touré’s music: Songhay, Fulfulde, Tamasheq, and most commonly, Bambara.

In Touré’s electric music you can hear pieces of the Tuareg style that came into popular US consciousness with the rise of the band Tinariwen.

RTWT


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