Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ali, Farewell and Respect

Ali Farka Toure, 1939-2006.

You can perhaps hear the wailing and mourning emanating from deep in the heart of Mali, West Africa, where the news has traveled of the death of African blues musician Ali Farka Toure.

Toure was considered both Africa's Muddy Waters and a Malian cultural abassador who shunned the spotlight and returned to his native village to farm on the edge of the Sahara. While many were introduced to his music via his 1990 breakout album The River, others discovered him via soundtrack writer and guitar improvisor Ry Cooder's collaboration with Toure, 1994's Talking Timbuktu, hyped to no end on Los Angeles's KCRW.

However, Toure's music shone most where it originated; hence the pristinely produced, near field-recording-expansiveness of 1999's Niafunke, recorded on his farm in his home town, remains of his greatest recorded works.

Hear clips from Niafunke.

Read a BBC writer's enounter with Toure in Africa.

All Music discography link.