Ali and Toumani, featuring the Malian musicians, Ali Farka Touré on the guitar and vocals, and Toumani Diabaté on the kora, was released in 2010, several years after Touré’s death in 2006.
This is their second, and final collaboration, following ‘In The Heart Of The Moon’, which won the ‘Best Traditional World Music Album Grammy Award’ in 2005. This was Touré’s second Grammy, he won his first for the album ‘Talking Timbuktu’ which he made with Ry Cooder in 1994.
Whilst their first album was recorded using a mobile studio in the disused hotel, the Hotel Mandé, on the banks of the Niger River in Bamako, Mali, this album was recorded at World Circuit’s Livingston Studios in London. Diabaté accompanied Touré on his last concert tour in the summer of 2005, and while they were in London, World Circuit’s founder and producer Nick Gold, and recording engineer Jerry Boys, managed to get them in the studio to record over three consecutive afternoons. On these recordings they were joined by Buena Vista Social Club’s Orlando ‘Cachaito’ Lopez on the double bass.
Although Touré was ill there is no sign of this on the album, apart from the fact that he only sings on two of the tracks. Diabaté described Ali and Toumani as “a wiser album, a softer album, an acoustic album that we could savour”. Despite Touré being famous for playing electric guitar, this is an acoustic album, and it leaves the impression that before us are two musicians who are at the top of their profession on their respective instruments, jamming together in an intimate setting.
We often ask our prospective customers, when we are about to do a demonstration of hi-fi equipment, what music they would like to listen to. They usually answer that we should just play anything. This sounds simple but could easily be a recipe for disaster. There is nothing like a few notes from an artist that the customer hates, to ruin a demonstration. So, one of my favourite choices is the first track, ‘Ruby’ from Ali and Toumani. The music is rich and beautiful and rhythmic. The recording quality is superb and there is nothing one can do but be captivated by the beautiful, natural sound, and drawn into appreciating the system. There is also great variety on this album and I could equally use the track ‘Sabu Yerkoy’ with its Cuban salsa beat, or the bluesy track ‘Warbé’.