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World - Released March 28, 1994 | World Circuit

By the time your average listeners get around to the slow, elemental backbeat of "Ai Du," all of their preconceptions about chickens and eggs, roots and fruits, or bluesmen and griots have been blurred and obscured by the enchanting music that makes up Talking Timbuktu. It's all in there: the droning traditional timbres of Mali in Ali Farka Touré's guitar; the deep, mysterious incantations of the Mississippi Delta blues in Ry Cooder's slide work; the soulful backwoods moan of "Gatemouth" Brown's viola; the percolating rhythms of Hamma Sankare and Oumar Touré, and the earthy resonant dance of drummer Jim Keltner and bassist John Patitucci. "Ai Du" sums out to something not unlike the blues or West African music, but it's something else again: like some pan-ethnic folk music for the 21st century. That's because Talking Timbuktu is an epic cross-cultural super session that captures the deepest spirit of music and transports it across ethnic and stylistic boundaries without demeaning the gift giver or the gift. Ali Farka Touré's blissful melodic lines do not adhere to traditional blues form, but rather suggest a kind of pre-blues music of African origins. On a tune such as "Soukora," Touré pours out his heart to his lover, as he and Cooder playfully circle each other with bell-like chords and ornaments that sound like a curtain of electric pearls, while Touré's more vivid attack on "Amandral" echoes phrases evocative of John Lee Hooker. In truth, Talking Timbuktu resists easy description. It is exquisite, mysterious music. © TiVo
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World - Released June 27, 2005 | World Circuit

In the Heart of the Moon is a duet recording by Malian guitar slinger Ali Farka Toure and Mandé lineage griot Toumani Diabate on kora. There are a few other players who contribute percussion here and there, and Ry Cooder plays a Kawai piano on a couple of tracks and a Ripley guitar on one, but other than these cats, this is a live duo set without edits or enhancements of any kind. There were three sessions in the conference room of the Mande Hotel in Mali, the first of which was on the eve of Farka Toure being elected mayor of his town, Niafunké. Most of the music here dates back to the Jurana Kura (translated as new era) cultural movement, which was part of the independence struggle in the 1950s and early '60s. The music created by the Jurana Kura for the guitar created a entirely new style of rhythmic fingerpicking. For those familiar with Farka Toure's blazing lead style, this disc may come as a shock. While he does solo many times here, he is also playing in balance with Diabate, whose kora has the larger lyric and harmonic palette, so he is in a supporting role. It doesn't matter. Whether the song is "Kaira" (written and performed by Diabate's father in the '50s and the earliest recorded track on the album, from before the Mande sessions), "Ai Ga Bani (I Love You)" and "Soumbou Ya Ya" (both written for young people during the Jurana Kura), or one of Farka Toure's originals near the end of the set, such as "Gomni," the style is the same. Everything echoes this earlier era because it has informed all Malian and Guinean music since. The purpose was to make people aware not only of its existence but to inspire and exhort. The music is insistent but not strident. It contains a gentleness and tenderness that seem to drip from the region, one of the poorest in the world. The players' focus and intensity are captured, but they make it all come off so easily that the listener gets lost in the pleasure of these gorgeous melodies and the call-and-response style of interaction between the players. Simply put, In the Heart of the Moon is nothing short of remarkable, and one of the best offerings World Circuit/Nonesuch have ever released. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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World - Released February 22, 2010 | World Circuit

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Africa - Released June 15, 1992 | World Circuit

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African guitarist Ali Farka Toure's previous releases were wonderful mixes of traditional language and rhythms being supported by contemporary concerns, instrumentalists, and producers. His most recent session features his working band backing Toure in a series of impassioned, animated tunes that are done in both his native tongue and English. The similarity between Toure's sparse playing and percussive writing and early blues songs has been noted. What also deserves mention is the cohesive qualities his band have and the way his electric and acoustic playing, with its light, frilly air, fills in the spaces underneath his vocals easily. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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World - Released July 17, 2006 | World Circuit

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World - Released January 1, 1990 | World Circuit

Toure's second release expands his adventuresome blues-based approach, with a harmonica, sax, and native violin beefing up the sound on several cuts. © Bob Tarte /TiVo
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World - Released January 1, 1999 | World Circuit

Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure's music has always managed global travel with ease and musical grace, shrinking the miles between Western Africa and the Mississippi Delta and seemingly visiting every city in between. Toure has received his share of accolades for blurring the lines between his contemporary/traditional fingerpicking style and "country blues." Toure has routinely collaborated with musicians from other cultures and musical genres, most notably the prolific and internationally influenced Ry Cooder on their widely acclaimed 1994 album Talking Timbuktu. He establishes a firm aesthetic residence on Niafunké, his first and most welcome CD in five years. Niafunké was recorded using a state-of-the-art portable studio in Toure's home village of Niafunke, which clearly lends a decisive authentic flavor and sense of musical place to the disc. Each tune is a lithe and resonant labyrinth of call-and-response patterns: a fingerpicked guitar speaks to a one-stringed njarka fiddle, calabash pummelings weave into those of the conga drums, and a lively small chorus answers Toure's authoritative lead vocals. A couple of the best cuts include "Ali's Here" and "Saukare." A beautifully rendered and intoxicating record. © Becky Byrkit /TiVo
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World - Released January 1, 1988 | World Circuit

Internationally feted at the age of 50, Ali Farka Touré's life was not always so easy. Up till the release of this, his third album, he was virtually unknown in West Africa and a non-entity in the world music community. Before this album bought him fame, if not fortune, Touré's life resembled Amos Tutuola's in Palm Wine Drunkard, a mixture of hard times and legend. What made Touré stand out from the crowd was his mixture of these two elements, a blues-based singing style close to John Lee Hooker and a particularly African choice of subject matter, often rooted in West African myth and folktale. On this release, Touré performs most often unaccompanied relying entirely on the magnetism of his beautiful voice and the counterpoint of his rhythmic guitar. Occasionally, Touré is accompanied by traditional instruments such as calabash or bongos, which he also plays, but the real strength of this album lies in his magnificent voice. While he sings in several different languages, including English, the power and genius of Touré's compositions easily carry through the language barrier. This album inaugurated a new marriage of American blues and African musical traditions of which Touré is the best practitioner. © Brian Whitener /TiVo
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World - Released July 17, 2006 | World Circuit

Before his death in 2006, Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure recorded some sessions in the Hotel Mande in Bamako, Mali. SAVANE, released posthumously, is taken from those sessions, and it bears testament to Farka Toure's standing as one of the giants of contemporary African music. The hallmarks of the artist's work are all here: gentle, mesmerizing tunes centered on sinuous, circular guitar patterns, and evocative vocal lines that float above the music and work in dialogue with the percussion. A valuable addition to Farka Toure's catalogue, SAVANE is a beautiful, elegant swan song that belongs alongside the artist's best work. © TiVo
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Africa - Released January 1, 2004 | World Circuit

By the mid-'90s, Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré was expanding his signature acoustic African blues by changing his instrumental palette and collaborating with Western musicians like Ry Cooder (as on 1994's Talkin' Timbuktu). While Touré gained prominence during this period, many die-hard fans tout the artist's earliest work as his strongest. The double-disc set Red & Green brings together two albums originally released by the French label Sonodisc between the mid- and late '80s. The original vinyl versions were long out of print and difficult to find, until their issue here on Nonesuch. Both albums are entirely acoustic (Touré didn't introduce an electric guitar until 1991's The Source), with minimal accompaniment on calabash and ngoni (a traditional four-string guitar), which perfectly complements Touré's percussive guitar style and plaintive, keening vocals. The music bears a striking resemblance to the modal blues of American artists like Son House and John Lee Hooker, yet it is deeply West African, with scales and motivic flourishes indigenous to the culture, and lyrical themes that reflect Touré's life in rural Mali. Red & Green is a must for Touré fans: a blissful, early dose of this singular artist's superb music. © TiVo
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World - Released April 22, 1996 | World Circuit

Ali Farka Toure's Radio Mali features Malian radio appearances from 1970 to 1978, which were among the first performances to bring the West African guitarist/singer's work to the attention of his countrymen. Though it was available for a time as an import CD, Rykodisc's release of Radio Mali marks its debut as a domestically available title. Tracks like "Njarka," "Samarya," and "Biennial" provide insight into Toure's talent from before he was discovered by the world music community at large. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Latin Jazz - Released July 17, 2006 | World Circuit

Before his death in 2006, Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure recorded some sessions in the Hotel Mande in Bamako, Mali. SAVANE, released posthumously, is taken from those sessions, and it bears testament to Farka Toure's standing as one of the giants of contemporary African music. The hallmarks of the artist's work are all here: gentle, mesmerizing tunes centered on sinuous, circular guitar patterns, and evocative vocal lines that float above the music and work in dialogue with the percussion. A valuable addition to Farka Toure's catalogue, SAVANE is a beautiful, elegant swan song that belongs alongside the artist's best work. © TiVo
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World - Released June 15, 1992 | World Circuit

African guitarist Ali Farka Toure's previous releases were wonderful mixes of traditional language and rhythms being supported by contemporary concerns, instrumentalists, and producers. His most recent session features his working band backing Toure in a series of impassioned, animated tunes that are done in both his native tongue and English. The similarity between Toure's sparse playing and percussive writing and early blues songs has been noted. What also deserves mention is the cohesive qualities his band have and the way his electric and acoustic playing, with its light, frilly air, fills in the spaces underneath his vocals easily. © Ron Wynn /TiVo