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Songhai Blues – Homage to Ali Farka Toure
Review of CD by Samba Toure

By Julius Timmerman
Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Samba Toure from Mali is a protégé of Ali Farka Toure, who had invited Samba to play in his band in 1997. This proved to be inspirational for Samba, and now Songhai Blues, his first release, is his tribute to the late great desert bluesman who was his teacher and friend.

It moves along at a good pace, great for dancing, with pulsating sometimes complex rhythms held in place by a fluid bass that weaves in and out of the tunes. The vocals are often intense with a sense of urgency to get his message across, while at other times they are soulful and pleading. Strong responsive backing vocals lift each song in a gospel-like way, confirming Samba’s own delivery. Themes include women, hard work, keeping of traditions and a final dedication to Ali Farka Toure.

Instruments include acoustic and electric guitar, a sokou (traditional Malian violin), bass guitar, drums, ngoni (four-string guitar), flutes, and tamani (talking drum). Samba is a fine guitarist and his playing blends in rather than stands out, with the homogenous instrumentation tending to be similar from one track to the next.

With over an hour of music, this is a feast for lovers of Malian traditional music (albeit played on both modern and ancient instruments), while the uninitiated may have to get used to the insistent chant style so typical of desert blues. It’s a powerful album with plenty to absorb in one sitting.

RIVERBOAT TUGCD1054 (thru Planet)

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Songhai Blues – Homage to Ali Farka Toure