The music I feel most connected to beyond rock is from Mali. The melodies are so fluid, so elegant and most of all so trance-inducing. It often sits on one chord and notes played revolve around that chord. It can feel like a drone at times, and in the case of Songhoy Blues it rocks, lulls and the percussion grooves are not only trance-inducing but dance-inducing.
Many of the musicians we know from Mali are in exile, driven out by Islamists threatening musicians and kidnapping them; the members of Tinariwen know this firsthand. There is sadness, defiance and celebration in the music Songhoy Blues brought to the Tiny Desk from a record called Music in Exile, which is co-produced by an artist most of us rock lovers know best from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Nick Zinner. Rock and the desert blues, already closely connected in attitude and sound, fuse nicely with his touch — and can be felt in blissful rawness here.
“Sekou Oumarou” 00:00
“Al Hassidi Terei” 03:46
Lobi Traoré with Vincent Bucher (harmonica)
Lobi Traoré (1961 – 1 June 2010) was a Malian musician. He was born in the village of Bakaridianna, on the Niger River close to Ségou and died in Bamako. His singing has been described in The Economist as “flat, strangely penetrating tone, somewhere between rap and blues”.
His breakthrough album, Bamako, produced by Ali Farka Touré, was released in 1994. It was voted one of the best rock albums of the year by Libération and one of the best world music albums by Le Monde.
Popularly and affectionately known as Kar Kar, Boubacar Traoré is Mali’s legendary blues guitarist. He has been in and out of the musical limelight a number of times in the last 40 years. His nickname came about because when he played soccer people called out ‘Kari, Kari’ meaning ‘dribble, dribble’.
Kar Kar grew up in the 1940s in Kayes, part of the Bambara region of Mali. His musical influences at that time were kassonke, a local traditional style, and American blues. Also his brother went to Cuba to study music and on his return he helped Boubacar learn guitar. His style of guitar playing can actually be compared to the kora.
The group Amanar formed in 2005, under the direction of Ahmed Ag Kaedi. Amanar rose to fame locally in Kidal through hard work and perseverance – sometimes lugging their material by foot when necessary, utilizing megaphones when lacking the proper material. The origin of the name Amanar (the Tamashek word for the constellation Orion) comes from when the band had to rehearse through the night until the early hours, when the stars were high in the sky.
Sidi Touré (born 1959, Gao, Northern Mali) is a singer/songwriter from Bamako, Mali. His music is a type of songhaï blues. He started his career in the Sonhaï Stars, a regional orchestra. In 1984 he won the award of best singer with a song of his own hand at a Mali National Bienale. He won the same prize again in 1986.
Thrill Jockey released Sidi Touré’s new album “Sidi Touré & Friends : Sahel Folk” on january 15, 2011.
Each song is a duet with musicians from Gao, Mali : Jiba Touré (Guitar, vocals), Jambala Maïga (Kuntigui = monocord guitar, vocals), Douma Maïga (Kurbu = traditional three string guitar), Dourra Cissé (Guitar, vocals), Yehiya Arby (Guitar, vocals).
Ali Ibrahim “Farka” Touré (1939-2006) was a malian singer and guitarist born in Kanau, Mali. His music is at the crossroad of traditional malian music (one of the main roots of contemporary North American blues) and modern feedback influences from North American and English blues.
Ali Ibrahim “Farka” Touré was born in 1939 (he did not know the exact date of birth) in the Muslim village of Kanau, near Gourma Rharous, on the banks of the Niger River, in the northwestern Malian region of Tombouctou. He was the tenth son of his mother but the only one to survive past infancy. “The name I was given was Ali Ibrahim, but it’s a custom in Africa to give a child a strange nickname if you have had other children who have died,” Touré was quoted as saying in a biography on his Record Label, World Circuit Records. His nickname, “Farka”, chosen by his parents, means “donkey” – an animal admired for its tenacity and stubbornness. “Let me make one thing clear. I’m the donkey that nobody climbs on!” He was descended from the ancient military force known as the Arma, and was ethnically tied to the Songrai (Songhai) and Peul peoples of northern Mali.
As the first African bluesman to achieve widespread popularity on his home continent, Touré was often known as “the African John Lee Hooker”. Musically, the many superpositions of guitars and rhythms in his music were similar to R. L. Burnside’s hypnotic blues style. He usually sang in one of several African languages, mostly Songhay, Fulfulde, or Tamasheq, as on his breakthrough album, Ali Farka Touré, which established his reputation in the world music community.