News & Reviews
- Sunday, February 13, 2011
Congratulations to the Nonesuch artists who were presented with Grammy Awards at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, held Sunday, February 13, in Los Angeles: The Black Keys, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and World Circuit / Nonesuch Records artists Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté. Together, these artists' 2010 releases garnered a total of six awards.
- Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Ali and Toumani, the second and last album pairing kora master Toumani Diabaté with the late guitar virtuoso Ali Farka Touré, has made the Metacritic list of the best-reviewed, highest-scoring albums of 2010, coming in at No. 5. "On Metacritic, we consider 'great' albums—those we label as having 'universal acclaim' from critics—to be those with a Metascore of 81 or greater," says the site. Ali and Toumani received an 89.
About this Album
“The D.N.A. of the blues” —Martin Scorsese
“Absolutely perfect. It’s an enriched musical statement. A truly great piece of work.” —Ry Cooder
“I know this is my best album ever. It has the most power and is the most different.” —Ali Farka Touré
The death of Ali Farka Touré on March 7, 2006, meant the departure of one of the world’s most beloved, original, and historically important musical artists. While the great guitarist and singer was firmly rooted in the cultural and spiritual traditions of his native Mali, he transcended place to earn decades of acclaim from audiences, critics, and other musicians worldwide. That year, World Circuit / Nonesuch released Touré’s final album, Savane.
The New York Times’ obituary called Touré “one of African music’s most profound innovators.” Entertainment Weekly said that when Touré died, “the world lost a true guitar great and one of the sturdiest bridges connecting Africa to America.” He was commonly referred to as “the Bluesman of Africa,” but he disliked the moniker, since it often implied that American blues artists influenced him. On the contrary, Touré’s music made clear that the roots of blues and soul music lay in the age-old Malian melodies and rhythms he channeled. As the Los Angeles Times obituary said, “Before the blues arrived in the Mississippi Delta, it lived in the desert of Mali, West Africa, and was known by a different name. The sound of Ali Farka Touré was like the DNA that proved the paternity of the music.”
Touré recorded Savane during his protracted battle with bone cancer, a period of intense creativity and artistic commitment. The album—whose title translates to “savannah”—reaffirms his connection with the traditional Songhai and Fulani music of northern Mali perhaps more than any of his previous recordings. In his trademark fashion, he has transposed to guitar the scratchy riffing of the jeurkel, a one-string lute on which he learned to play music. He is joined by small band of n’goni (African lute) players, including two of his country’s best: Basekou Kouyate and Mama Sissoko, who adapt their Mandé (southern Malian) playing to these northern styles. Among the rhythms on Savane are those of the Djimbala spirit cult of the Niger River, through which Touré received his initiation into music years ago.
Less than a month before he died, Touré won his second Grammy for his intimate collaboration with the Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté, In the Heart of the Moon. That album was an offshoot of Savane, for which Nick Gold and his World Circuit team—including longtime engineer Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club)—constructed a mobile studio in the Hotel Mandé in Bamako, Mali, overlooking the Niger River. (Work on Savane was completed in a London studio.) The third and final album from the Hotel Mandé Sessions is the debut recording of Diabaté’s pan-African Symmetric Orchestra, Boulevard de l’Indépendence, which World Circuit / Nonesuch released on the same day as Savane.
Savane and In the Heart of the Moon culminate a long relationship between Ali Farka Touré and Nick Gold / World Circuit that includes such internationally acclaimed recordings as The Source (1991); Talking Timbuktu (1996), Touré’s Grammy-winning collaboration with Ry Cooder; and Niafunke (1999), among other releases. After Niafunke, Touré had retired from music to devote himself to what he considered his primary vocation: cultivating the land in the Malian town after which that recording was named. He was elected mayor of Niafunke just before the Hotel Mandé Sessions began in January 2004.
Ali Farka Touré, guitar (1-8, 10-13), vocals (1-8, 10-13), percussion (1, 13), foot-tap (9), bass drum (10), bongos (10)
Mama Sissoko, Bassekou Kouyate, ngoni (1-7, 10, 12, 13)
Fanga Diawara, njarka violin (1, 7, 9)
Little George Sueref, harmonica (1, 6, 8)
Pee Wee Ellis, tenor sax (1, 3, 13)
Yves Wernert, bass (1)
Fain Dueñas, percussion (1, 3, 6, 9, 13)
Dassy Sarré, ngoni (2, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12)
Souleye Kané, backing vocals (2, 5, 6, 7, 10), calabash (11, 12)
Oumar Touré, backing vocals (2, 6, 7, 10), congas (3)
Hammer Sankare, backing vocals (2, 5-7, 13)
Ali Magassa, backing vocals (2, 6, 7, 10), guitar (5, 12)
Ramata Diakite, backing vocals (3)
Afel Bocoum, backing vocals (6, 7, 13)
Etienne Mbappé, bass (6)
Alou Coulibaly, water calabash (7)
Fanga Diawara, violin (9)
Massambou Wele Diallo, bolon (9)
Brehima Toure, backing vocals (10)
Sonny, bass (10)
Marriame Tounkara, backing vocals (12)
Yacouba Moumouni, flute (12)
Oumar Diallo, bass (13)
A World Circuit Production
Produced by Nick Gold
Recorded by Jerry Boys and Yves Wernert
Recorded at the Hotel Mandé and Bogolan Studios, Bamako, Mali
Additional recording at Livingston Studios, London
Mixed by Jerry Boys at Livingston Studios, London
Assistant Engineers: Donald Clark, Graham Dominy, Sonny
Mastered by Tom Leader
Production Supervisor: Sara Daoud
All songs composed by, or traditional and arranged by Ali Farka Touré, published by World Circuit Music
Design by Julian House at Intro
Cover photography by Jonas Karlsson
This album is available from Nonesuch in the United States and Canada only.