Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ali Farka TOURÉ - Talking Timbuktu 1994

Ali Farka TOURE - Talking Timbuktu 1994
Label: WCD (LP)
Recorded at Ocean Way Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California in September, 1993


(((TALKING TIMBUKTU won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album.)))

Talking Timbuktu is a groundbreaking record that vividly illustrates the Africa-Blues connection in real time. Ali Farka Toure, one of Mali's leading singer-guitarists, has a trance-like, bluesy style that, although deeply rooted in Malian tradition, bears astonishing similarity to that of John Lee Hooker or even Canned Heat. It's a mono-chordal vamp, with repetitive song lines cut with shards of blistering solo runs that shimmer like a desert mirage. Toure may be conversant with some blues artists, but it is unlikely that artists like Hooker or Robert Pete Williams ever heard these Malian roots, which makes the connection so uncanny. Ry Cooder, well versed in domestic and world guitar styles, is the perfect counterpoint in these extended songs/jams, his sinewy slide guitar intertwining with his partner's in a super world summit without barriers or borders.
By Derek Rath.
On the surface, this is a very simple album, simple in that it is accessible, unpretentious and easy to listen to. On repeated helpings, however, Talking Tmbuktu becomes an extraordinarily beautiful ensemble of the rock-pop (Ry Cooder) and the trad and bluesy (Toure). Take Gomni, the heart rendering tune about "hard work". The rich rhythmic tapistry and haunting melody that shifts back and forth among variations with amazing fluidity touches any soul.
On the other hand, Lasidan, a song about happyness is groovy and multi-layered. Blues aficiandos attempt to catalogue Toure as the "West African John Lee Hooker" due to the similarity in the low-pitched vocals and mid-tempo, foot-stomping rhythms found in so many of his songs (like Ai Du). But I found his music richer; technically its combo of instruments ranging from the emblematic accoustic guitar to the calabash drums to the najarka lute create an inimitable style. Culturally Toure's songs draw from several sources. This is universal music, capable of reaching any heart despite the obvious language barrier.
For a mere mortal like me who picked this album on word of mouth, it also opened a whole new doors into music from Mali.
By Yohannes Dimberu.
By the time your average listeners get around to the slow, elemental backbeat of "Ai Du," all of their preconceptions about chickens and eggs, roots and fruits or bluesmen and griots have been blurred and obscured by the enchanting music that makes up TALKING TIMBUKTU.

That's because TALKING TIMBUKTU is an epic cross-cultural super-session that captures the deepest spirit of music and transports it across ethnic and stylistic boundaries without demeaning the gift-giver or the gift. Ali Farka Toure's blissful melodic lines do not adhere to traditional blues form, but rather suggest a kind of pre-blues music of African origins. On a tune such as "Soukora" Toure pours out his heart to his lover, as he and Cooder playfully circle each other with bell-like chords and ornaments that sound like a curtain of electric pearls, while Toure's more vivid attack on "Amandral" echoes phrases evocative of John Lee Hooker. In truth, TALKING TIMBUKTU resists easy description. It is exquisite, mysterious music.

It's all in there: the droning traditional timbres of Mali in Ali Farka Toure's guitar; the deep, mysterious incantations of the Mississippi delta blues in Ry Cooder's slide work; the soulful backwoods moan of "Gatemouth" Brown's viola; the percolating rhythms of Hamma Sankare and Oumar Toure; and the earthy resonant dance of drummer Jim Keltner and bassist John Patitucci. "Ai Du" sums out to something not unlike the blues or West African music...but it's something else again--like some pan-ethnic folk music for the 21st century.
From CD Universe.
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown- Guitar (Electric), Viola
Ry Cooder- Guitar, Mandolin, Guitar (Bass), Guitar (Electric), Guitar (Steel), Marimba, Vocals, Tamboura, Cumbus
Jim Keltner- Drums
John Patitucci- Bass, Guitar (Bass), Bass (Acoustic)
Hamma Sankare- Percussion, Vocals, Choir, Chorus, Calabash
Ali Farka Touré- Guitar (Acoustic), Banjo, Percussion, Arranger, Guitar (Electric), Vocals, Six String Banjo
Oumar Toure- Bongos, Conga, Vocals, Choir, Chorus
A1. Bonde  5:27   
A2. Soukora  6:05
A3. Gomni 7:00
A4. Sega  3.10
A5. Amandrai  9:23
B1. Lasidan  6:06
B2. Keito  5:42
B3. Banga  2:32
B4. Ai Du  7:09
B5. Diaraby  7:21

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