Thursday, March 09, 2006

World: If you've never heard the music of... Ali Farka Toure

I have to note the death of Ali Farka Toure. A musician from Mali in western Africa, his style of electric guitar - unique to my ear - was a very special blend of african and western.

He started with traditional Mali stringed instruments, but got a western guitar when he was 18. He was influenced by american blues and R&B music, such as Albert King and Otis Redding. He won two grammies in the past 10-odd years, the first a collaboration with Ry Cooder.

If I'd never heard anything more, I would still sing his praises on the basis of the first track I ever heard from him, the wonderfully sublime Karaw from 1992's The Source. As it is, I'm glad there's a lot more for me still to explore.

He was 66 or 69 when he died (depending on sources), and the mayor of his town.

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