Fatoumata Diawara – Ivory Coast via Mali with lots of influence

The latest album to arrive with me is one of those gems that I find myself driven to writing about and sharing with all the readers of this blog. Fatoumata is (at the time of writing) a 30 year rising star of world music. Her singing is a mix of Malian grooves, some more reminiscent of the earlier tracks on Rokia Troure’s difficult to find album release “Mouneissa”. Other tracks give a sense of New Mali, as exported by current artists such as Vieux Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate, with energetic grooves (check Sowa and Bakonoba (the video is featured on this page). Which label managed to capture this rising star and do a fantastic job getting it down onto recorded media for us all? World Circuit of course, protecting and storing the cultural heritage of modern world music. You can find the album “Fatou” online through Amazon, or other world music specialists.

It’s all about being friendly and positive

The thing that I hope with music is that it can bring us all together. Tomorrow evening I’m off to see a concert in my home town…the Festical Au Desert is bringing some of the heavweights over from Sengal and Mali, including the legendary Vieux Farka Toure among others.

Can’t wait to see and hear the music, and share with other people a concert with so much promise and behind it so much history.

I’ll post up a report after the weekend. Happy listening.

Ali and Toumani – their finest collaboration

I’ve just bought an album that has to go down as one of the most spectacular of the year, and it’s been carried off by two of my favourite artists: Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate. But you’re probably asking the question, how can Ali return from the grave to record an album? Well, this was his very last, recorded while he was suffering in his final days. For those familiar with these two virtuoso’s prior collaboration, In the Heart of the Moon which was released in 2004, this final recording session was made the following year, but clearly the release has been held back for an opportune moment.

I’m not sure quite how to express the impact that these two artists have had on my musical awakening. Toumani with the Kora, and Ali Farka Toure with his guitar. I think the fact that I do not understand the language being sung (on Ali’s other albums) creates a further distance between me and the artist. I’ve always been an instrumentalist, liking moods and passages creates by sounds and noise over lyrics trying to tell me a story.

The two albums are subtly different. With the former Toumani’s playing features much more strongly, the Kora has more attitude and takes a greater centre stage. It was Toumani’s first major performance on the international stage and Ali gave the protege the chance to shine. Since that first release Toumani has gone on to produce a further 3 albums and has appeared on numerous collaborative projects.

In ‘Ali and Tomani’ they are one. Even if just 12 months seperate the recording there is a perfect harmony and balance between the instruments. The Kora is less aggressive and blends seamlessly with Ali’s playing. For me, track of the album has to be “Soumbou Ya Ya”. It’s just pure Ali and Toumani sharing the love of their instruments. Not since Ali teamed up with Ry Cooder (‘Talking Timbuktu’) has there been such competiting collaboration.

Rest in peace Ali, you went out on the highest plateau.

Best of Bonga – Angola rocks the house

Angolan Legend Bonga
Angolan Legend Bonga

Since the 1970s Angola’s Bonga has featured prominently in the nations music and this is yet another epic slab to hit the World Music scene drawing on performances and works that span his 30 year career. For me Portuguese is one of the most interesting of all languages for music to be sung in, there is just something about its pronunciation and intonation that makes it fabulously interesting to listen to.  If you enjoy the sounds of Sara Tavares, Myra Andrade (who’s new album Storia Storia will soon be reviewed here too) or, the melodies of Madagascar’s Modeste, you’ll find that the Best of Bonga will sit comfortably in your collection.

Pickup a copy of the CD from Amazon here

Konkani Songs: Music From Goa made in Bombay

The world knows Indian music, but Konkani songs are truly unique with a blend of many musical facets. It is western music and yet it is still Indian – true soul music that touches your heart. This compilation contains 22 tracks of the finest the genre had to offer in the 50’s and 60’s, including tracks from Alfred Rose, Lorna, Chris, Perry, Robin Vaz, and many more.

Konkani Songs: Music From Goa made in Bombay