Amadou & Mariam, Frederic Galliano & African Diva | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Amadou & Mariam, Frederic Galliano & African Diva 

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The most famous singers of Malian blues, Ali Farka Toure and Habib Koite, have been celebrated for the soul-stirring purity of their work, but Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia, a married duo who met as teenagers at a school for the blind, are notable for the opposite. On their 1998 album, Sou ni Tile (Tinder), and their most recent work, Tje ni Mousso (a French import on Polydor), they use a full band to flesh out circular, repetitive guitar riffs with a diverse array of approaches. Some songs play up the chooglin' boogie inherent in the trance-inducing grooves, others add an infectious reggae lilt, a few sport full-on electric guitar solos; among the instruments used are funky horns, tabla, violin, the sweet-voiced, four-stringed Portuguese cavaquinho, and a 24-stringed Arabic zither called the kanun. Husband and wife usually take turns singing, but they're most powerful when they join voices, Doumbia's sweetness balancing Bagayoko's piercing nasality. For Frikyiwa Collection 1 (Six Degrees), opening act Frederic Galliano, a French dance producer, recruited an international group of DJs and producers to remix classic Malian songs, whose natural repetitiousness lends itself well to the dance-music approach: Scotland's Aqua Bassino grafts four-on-the-floor beats and delicate electric piano washes to the assertive Wassoulou singing of Nahawa Doumbia, Japan's Chari Chari lends a Lobi Traore gem a frenetic, percussive intensity, and France's Natty Bass Sound System gives Djigui's raw chant "Ladilikan" a dirty, distorted dub treatment. Galliano will attempt to replicate some of this material live with a band that includes a French keyboardist, two Guinean percussionists, a Senegalese kora player, and a Senegalese dancer. The French-African soul-hip-hop duo Les Nubians headlines. Saturday, 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Amadou & Mariam photo y Marie-Laure Dagnaux; Galliano photo by Giles Tandoni.


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