Ali Farka Toure | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ali Farka Toure 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Ali Farka Toure sometimes sounds like he has one foot planted in the Mississippi Delta and the other in the Niger. His work is deeply rooted in Malian tradition; in one interview he explained that he sings about "education, work, love, and society." But although he sings exclusively in West African languages, he sounds like a country bluesman. His guitar work betrays his admiration for John Lee Hooker, and there's also a formal resemblance: Malian griot songs and the blues both rely on pentatonic scales and repetition. Toure has been widely touted as a missing link between African and African American folk forms, which has led to collaborations with an unlikely assortment of musicians: Taj Mahal, the Chieftains, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, and most recently Ry Cooder (who also received a Grammy this year for his collaboration with Indian slide guitarist V.M. Bhatt). It's a testament to the strength of Toure's artistic vision that he absorbs their contributions but always ends up sounding like himself. His most vital accompanists remain his two-man backup band, Groupe Asko; their intricate vocal harmonies and percussion set his ringing, hypnotic guitar and keening voice in stark relief. Toure is a farmer who has retired from music for years at a time to cultivate the land, which makes it doubly advisable that you not miss his Chicago debut. Saturday, 7 and 10 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage; 561-7561 or 525-7793.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/John Mided.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Agenda Teaser

Tegan and Sara Cahn Auditorium, Northwestern University
October 15

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories