Ali Farka Toure & Tounami Diabate – Ali and Tounami (World Circuit/ Fuse)

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The late great Ali Farka Toure was apparently quite ill when he recorded this, his final duo with renowned kora player Tounami Diabate. It was recorded four years ago in London over the course of three days. Whilst their previous duo recording In The Heart and the Moon earned the two Malian’s a Grammy, this recording is possibly more lyrical, lighter and more flowing as the duo had become increasingly more comfortable playing together. This music is like a gentle summers breeze as Ali Farka Toure’s repetative acoustic blues provide a skeletal framework for Diabate’s extraordinary improvisational kora work which weaves playfully in and around the structures. Farka Toure sings on two of the tracks, yet his voice though weaker is especially poignant. The remainder of the album is instrumental, hypnotic and gorgeous, some of the tracks reworkings that have occurred across Farka Toure’s carrear. Whilst Ali’s son Vieux Farka Toure contributes backing vocals and conga work, the most surprising is the presence of Buena Vista Social Club bass player Cachaito, who remains unobtrusive, really enhancing the work of these extraordinary musicians. It’s difficult to know whether the poignancy that you feel when listening to this music is due to the subsequent knowledge of Farka Toure’s impending fate, but there’s no denying the quiet grace and beauty of the music that stems from the respect and chemistry these two generations of Mali musicians shared. This truly is something special.

Bob Baker Fish

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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.

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