Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabaté-In The Heart of the Moon

Today's jamandahalf is the product of an epic jam session. I love jam sessions, most of all because you never know when the music is going to end. Luckily for us, the jam session between Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabaté turned into a classic. Two of the world's most skilled musicians play a game of H-O-R-S-E on this album, both attempting to one-up each other musically, but in the end harmonize better than your favorite Motown quartet.

What's truly remarkable about this album is that it is the first time the two greats of Malian music had ever played together. Mali is famed for its vibrant music scene, and historically has had a major influence on genres from traditional blues and jazz to hip-hop and rock. From only three jam sessions in the conference room of the Mande Hotel in Bamako came this album crafted from songs that were either in their respective catalogs, or were landmark songs in Mali's music history. Over its 12 tracks, the two artists adopt a call and response style-one artist lays the harmony, the other gets funky. On these two standouts from the album, "Monsieur Le Maire De Niafunké" and "Hawa Dolo" you immediately get a sense of the incredible skill of the artists who manage to complement each other perfectly-the often intense yet delicate guitar picking of Toure is balanced by Diabaté's rhythmic kora. "Monsieur Le Maire De Niafunké" is the more upbeat of the two and moves with a driven pace, anchored by Diabaté yet defined by Toure's torrid picking. "Hawa Dolo" is slightly more brooding and paced, more pensive. Both great songs that showcase a fine mesh of technical precision and creative spunk-the mix that drives this entire project.

At its best, In The Heart of the Moon sounds like a private concert for you by the two masters. Although it's hard to get more simple than two guys playing their instruments, the music in itself is incredibly complex, with an unspoken understanding between the two driving the entire project. But as I have said before, and like this album shows perfectly, sometimes words just get in the way.

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Monsieur Le Maire De Niafunké: 

Hawa Dolo: 

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