Ali Farta Toure - Toumani Diabate " Ali e Toumani"

Questa è la seconda collaborazione tra Touré and Diabaté dopo l’incredibile “In The Heart Of The Moon”, datato 2005 e può essere considerato a tutti gli effetti una sorta di testamento musicale del grande artista africano visto che si tratta delle sue ultime registrazioni fortemente volute nonostante la il notevole sofferenza causata dalla malattia. Il seguito del Grammy Award winner sopra citato ripropone le stesse magiche atmosfere di incontaminata bellezza dove ancora una volta si rinnova l’ispirata collaborazione tra i due più importanti artisti del Mali. Nonostante inizialmente la loro collaborazione fosse pianificata solo per un brano, la creatività di questi artisti non è di quelle che si possono contenere e dalle session è scaturito per nostra fortuna questo nuovo materiale che ha permesso la realizzazione di un intero album. Non ci sono state prove e le performance sono state improvvisate sulla base di un repertorio familiare ad entrambi gli artisti con un' atmosfera familiare quasi palpabile.

This self-titled album is a fitting tribute to Toure's and Diabate's genius and friendship and is a beautiful farewell.

All Music Guide

It's a simply formula but it works brillanty. One reason why it is that Diabate adds more than the dazzling cascades of notes that first catch the album of spellbinging


So just what makes Ali & Toumani stronger and wiser than its predecessor ? Perhaps it's simply the diversity and intensity of the musical fantasia the two men create


This is a deep, darkly beautiful work. The interplay between these two men is exceedingly rare in any type of music. Ali and Toumani is profound and powerful, with a soft

Pop Matters

"Ali and Toumani" is the seminal meeting of musical greats and the exquisite marriage of varying genres spenning continents and generations

Blues And Soul

Ali and Toumani is a document of friendship and a deeply personal statement that's intemational in scope. It's also effortlessly soulful.


It's as easy to get lost in telepathic interplay between Toure and Diabate as to let the songs wash over you in shimmering transcendent waves.

Philadelphia Inquirer.

Intoxicating and seductive tracks that we all should consider a privilege to add to our record collections

Vanity Fair

A lovely monument

Independent on Sunday

5 stars

Financial Times

This is a magnificent and poignant farewell


It represents the last, precious testament of a hugely influential musician who helped reassert the African roots of blues guitar, captured here alongside his country leading


To quote The Small Faces, the music on this album really is "all too beautiful"

Daily Mirror

To their admirers, the union of Malian superstars Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate is comparade to Jimi Hendrix jamming with Eric Clapton

The Sun

Ali's vocals a reminder of an African great no longer with us

Evening Standard

Throughout, there is a light as a breeze quality to the music-making but also a timeless depth, a gentle profundity, it's irresistible.

New Jersey Star Ledger

To put it simply, Ali and Toumani is a quite, intimate, timeless record; a trascendent expression of cultural pride, deep friendship, and above all, breath-taking musical

Dusted Magazine

Buy without fear, then , and figure it out for yourself

The Times

When you're listening to this album it's like you're reading a book about Ali

AOL Shoutcast

These brillant, beautiful albums are the very opposite of musicianly duets; anachronous in the best possible way.


Beaufitully recorded, Ali & Toumani lives up to and perhaps exceeds expectations.

BBC Music Online

You get the feel of two of the world's greatest musicians in a room togegher, having a conversation and crating a document that will carry their legacy into the future.


Catch it in the night mood and you'll fall blissfully in love

Dazed and Confused.

The pair's obvious.communication produces some of the richest music in Mali in these albums.

Arts Desk

Another mesmeric tribute to Ali's legacy

Observer Music Monthly

The 11 tracks weave a binding spell

Q Magazine

While the younger man's kora solos still dazzle, what Toure is doing in the other speakers is never less than mesmeric, his riffs and curlicues suggesting a wide smile across his...


Discografia Ali Farka Toure

WC 070 ALI FARKA TOURE Red & Green

Discografia Ali Farka Toure e Toumani Diabate


Discografia Toumani Diabate

WC 079 TOUMANI DIABATE The Mandè Variations

ALI FARKA TOURE: 1939 - 2006

Ali Farka Touré was born in 1939 in the village of Kanau on the banks of the River Niger in the north west of Mali. He was his mother's tenth son but the first to survive infancy. '' I lost nine brothers of the same mother and father. The name I was given was Ali Ibrahim, but it's a custom in Africa to give a child a strange nickname if you have had other children that have died.'' The nickname they chose for Ali was 'Farka' meaning donkey, an animal admired for its strength and tenacity. ''But let me make one thing clear'' he said, ''I'm the donkey that nobody climbs on!''

When Ali was still an infant his father died while serving in the French army, and the family moved south along the river to Niafunké, the village Ali called home for the rest of his life.

With a population of over twenty thousand, Niafunké is one of the larger villages which scatter this sparse, arid semi-desert region. The fact that they have only recently installed telephone lines and electricity contributes to the tranquil atmosphere and there is always the cooling breeze from the river. People make their living by farming, cattle herding and fishing.

Ali was Niafunké's most famous citizen. Although internationally known as a musician he regarded himself as a farmer. In Mali, music is largely the monopoly of castes of hereditary musicians, but Ali came from a noble background. There is no tradition of music in his family, but he had a calling early on in life, becoming he said "drawn to music by its power". He was a 'child of the river'.

In Niafunké, as in the most of Mali, the dominant religion is Islam and Ali was a devout Muslim. But in this part of the world Islam co-exists with a much older indigenous belief system connected with the mysterious power of the Niger. It is believed that under the water there is a world of spirits called Ghimbala - male and female djinns with their own character, history, symbolic colours and ritual objects, all vividly portrayed in the local mythology. These djinns control both the spiritual and temporal world. Those who have the gift to communicate with the spirits are called 'children of the river'.

Ali had no formal schooling and his childhood was taken up by farming, followed by an apprenticeship as a tailor. But he was also mesmerised by the music played at Ghimbala spirit ceremonies in the villages along the banks of the Niger. He would sit and listen in awe as musicians sang and played the favoured instruments of the spirits; djerkel single string guitar, njarka single string violin and ngoni four string lute. His family did not regard music as a worthy occupation and the boy's interest was not encouraged. He was, however, a fiercely independent and self-determined youth and at the age of twelve he fashioned his first instrument, a djerkel guitar.

Ali found it very easy and natural to learn to play. Early on however he suffered attacks caused by his contact with the spirit world. He was sent away to a neighbouring village to be cured, and when he returned a year later he quickly became recognised for his power to communicate with the spirits. Ali was greatly influenced by his grandmother Kounandi Samba who was famous in the area as a priestess of the Ghimbala. But after her death, he was dissuaded from becoming a priest. ''Because of Islam, I don't want to practise this type of thing too much.....these spirits can be good to you or bad, so I just sing about them, but it's our culture, we can't pass it by.'' Many of his songs are about the spirits and he always travelled with his njarka violin as well as recordings of spirit music which he listened to whenever possible.

As a teenager Ali found work as a taxi driver and car mechanic and he also spent some time as a river ambulance pilot. He travelled widely in these jobs and continued to play music in ceremonies and for pleasure, with small groups and as accompanist to singers. By his early twenties he had learnt seven Malian languages fluently and had mastered the ngoni (traditional four string lute), njarka vioin and Peul bamboo flute. He was also well on his way to absorbing a vast repertoire of music and legend from the various masters he encountered on his travels.

'' I got to know music and to love it through so many heroes who passed on and who continue to live on the earth, because history remains. So it gave me the opportunity to get to know the culture of this music, its biography, legends and history.''

Ali was Sonraï, a people who form the majority of the population of Niafunké, but there are also many other peoples in the region speaking numerous languages - Peul, Bambara, Dogon, Songoy, Zarma, Bobo, Bozo and Tamascheq, the language of the Touareg. Touré sang in all these languages but the majority of his repertoire was in Sonraï and Peul.

In 1956 during his travels Ali saw a performance by the National Ballet of Guinea featuring the great Malinke guitarist Keita Fodeba. ''That's when I swore I would become a guitarist, I didn't know his guitar but I liked it a lot. I felt I had as much music as him and that I could translate it.'' He began to play using borrowed guitars and found it easy to translate his traditional guitar technique to the Western instrument. He said that his only problem was in keeping all six strings happy by touching them as he was used to only playing the monochord. At about the same time, he added percussion, drums (he made his own kit complete with cymbals and bass drum) and accordion to his musical skills (even making a few appearances performing Charles Aznavour repertoire!).

Upon Mali gaining independence from the French in 1960 the new government under President Modibo Keita initiated a policy to promote the arts and cultural troupes were formed to represent each of Mali's six administrative regions. From 1962 Ali worked with the Niafunké district troupe, which he co-led with Harbarie Labéré. He composed, sang, played guitar and rehearsed singers and dancers in a troupe numbering a hundred and seventeen people. He was extremely proud of the troupe which was successful in the biannual competitions held in Mopti throughout the 1960's. Ali also won numerous athletic prizes. ''I did this so my village wouldn't win zero. I'm very patriotic!'' In the sixties he also accompanied various singers and he had his own small group, a recording of which from the late 1960s includes a song sung in Sonraï to a Cuban salsa rhythm.

In 1968 (the year Modibo Keita was ousted in a coup by Moussa Traore) Ali made his first trip outside Africa when he was selected (along with the revered musicians Kelitigui Diabaté and Djelimady Tounkara) to represent Mali at an international festival of the arts in Sofia, Bulgaria. They performed arrangements of traditional music with Ali on guitar, flute, djerkel and njarka. It was in Sofia on 21st April 1968 that he bought his first guitar.

Also in 1968 a student friend in Bamako played him records by James Brown, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Jimmy Smith and Albert King. Ali remained a great fan of all these, partly he said because he heard so much of his own traditions in them. Of all this music, the one which struck him as most similar to his own, was the blues especially as performed by John Lee Hooker. He was immediately struck by the thought that "this music has been taken from here" and was surprised to hear singing in English.

In 1970 Ali's work took him from Niafunké to Mopti and later in the year to the capital Bamako. Here he began a decade working for National Radio Mali as a sound engineer. He also played as part of Radio Mali's orchestra until it was disbanded in 1973. Throughout the 1970's he brought his unique guitar style to the attention of the country via many radio broadcasts. On the advice of a journalist friend he sent a number of recordings of these broadcasts to the Son Afric record company in Paris.

In a matter of months the first Ali Farka Touré album (amongst the very first commercial records of Malian music) featuring Ali on guitar and vocals and Nassourou Sarre on ngoni was released. He continued to record in Bamako and send the tapes to Paris and a total of seven albums were released. Selections from the first five of these albums have been released by World Circuit as the CD 'Radio Mali'.

Throughout the 1970's Ali established a formidable reputation in Mali as a unique solo artist. He pioneered and perfected the adaptation of Sonraï, Peul and Tamascheq styles to the guitar. He remained uncompromisingly wedded to his traditional music, refusing to ''go commercial''. His songs celebrate love, friendship, peace, the land, the spirits, the river and Malian unity; all expressed in dense metaphors.

In 1986 one of his Radio Mali recorded albums (re-released on World Circuit as part of Red and Green in 2004), started to generate great interest amongst radio d.j.'s in London including Andy Kershaw and Charlie Gillett. It also came to the attention of Folk Roots magazine; with no information on the record sleeve the journal puzzled over this African musician who played the blues in such an individual way.

Anne Hunt from World Circuit travelled to Bamako to seek out this mysterious man. With the help of Toumani Diabate a broadcast was made on Radio Mali asking Ali to present himself. Ali had moved back to Niafunké four years earlier but at the time of the broadcast was visiting the capital. An invitation was made for Ali to perform in the U.K. and in 1987 for the first time since the Sofia Festival in 1968, Touré he played his first concerts outside Africa. Showing no signs of nerves or unfamiliarity with his surroundings, and with absolute and supreme confidence in his music, he played a masterful series of shows winning audiences everywhere. In the same year his first recording outside Africa was an instant success for the World Circuit label.

Since then he has undertaken extensive tours of Europe, U.S.A, Canada, Brazil and Japan and has recorded a further five albums for the label, including 'The River', 'The Source', and the GRAMMY Award winning 'Talking Timbuktu', a collaboration with Ry Cooder which served to confirm Ali's status as an artist of international repute.

Despite his amazing international success, Ali became increasingly reluctant to leave his farm in Niafunké. World Circuit's Nick Gold decided that the only way the make another record with him was to bring the studio to Niafunké. The studio was set up in an abandoned agricultural school, and the recording had to be fitted in between tending the land, with the crops always coming first. The resulting album 'Niafunké' was released in 1999.

After that, Ali returned to what he saw as his main role in life, looking after his farm and being with his family. Ali was actively involved with ongoing irrigation projects to better the agricultural situation in the Niafunké region and this culminated in his election in 2004 as Mayor of Niafunké.

Although choosing to retire from music as his full time career, and rarely playing live, Ali stated that should he feel suitably inspired, or have an issue that needs to be addressed he would record again. In 2003, he participated in the documentary 'Feel Like Going Home'. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film traces the history of the blues from the banks of the Niger to the Mississippi Delta, and would bring Ali to an even wider audience. Ali had also been researching his local music and culture, with the aim of preserving it for future generations, and this had inspired him to play and record again. In 2004 after turning down endless lucrative offers to perform, Ali accepted an invitation to play at the tiny Privas festival in France for no fee. Ali began 2005 with his first major concert in Europe for five years, his show at the BOZAR in Brussels, which featured a guest appearance from Toumani Diabaté, was greeted with frenzied excitement from fans and press alike.

In 2005 the first of a trilogy of albums recorded at Bamako's Hotel Mandé was released. 'In the Heart of the Moon' a duet album with Toumani Diabaté won a GRAMMY award making Ali the only African to have received two such prestigious honours. Shortly following the album's release Ali played a series of brilliant European concerts with his unique down-home ngoni band featured on his new album, 'Savane' the third in the Hotel Mandé series. Toumani accompanied Ali on those live dates, prior to which they spent 3 days in a London studio recording the follow up to 'In the Heart of the Moon'. Featuring contributions from Orlando 'Cachaíto' López on bass, the album 'Ali and Toumani' is released in February 2010.

Sadly, Ali would not see the release of 'Savane'. Just a few weeks after winning his second GRAMMY and approving the album's final master, Ali succumbed to the bone cancer with which he had suffered from for the preceding two years. He died in Bamako on March 7th 2006 and was buried in Niafunké.

In Mali, Ali was accorded a posthumous Commandeur de l'Ordre National du Mali (the country's highest honour) and a state funeral attended by all the country's senior politicians and major music stars as well as thousands of ordinary people. The worldwide media coverage of his death was unprecedented for an African musician and messages poured in from fans around the world. All this for a musician who considered himself first and foremost a farmer.

Ali Farka Touré was a true original. An exceptional musician, he transposed the traditional music of his native north Mali and single-handedly brought the style known as desert blues to an international audience. He was a giant of African music and will be missed by fans throughout the world.

Original text by Lucy Duran
(updated by Nick Gold & Dave McGuire)


Toumani Diabaté is one of the most important musicians in Africa. Toumani plays the kora, a harp unique to West Africa with 21 strings; and more than any other kora player it is Toumani who is responsible for bringing this instrument to audiences around the world. He is a performer of truly exceptional virtuosity and creativity - someone who shows that the kora can rival the world's greatest instruments.

Toumani was born in Bamako, the capital of Mali, in 1965 into a family of exceptional griots (hereditary musician/historian caste); his research shows 71 generations of kora players from father to son. The most notable was his father, Sidiki Diabaté (c. 1922-96), a kora player of legendary fame in West Africa - dubbed King of the Kora at the prestigious international Black Arts Festival Festac in 1977, and a continuing inspiration to all kora players to this day. Sidiki was born in the Gambia of Malian parents. He settled in Mali after the second world war, where he became famous for his virtuoso "hot" and idiosyncratic style of playing (echoes of which can be heard in Toumani's style). After Mali became independent in 1960, Sidiki was invited to join the Ensemble National Instrumental - a government sponsored group formed to celebrate the richness of Malian culture - along with his first wife, Toumani's mother, the singer Nene Koita. Sidiki and Nene were much favoured by the first president, Modibo Keita - who gave them the land on which the family house now stands, underneath the presidential palace in Bamako.

This was the musical environment in which Toumani was raised - though in fact, he was self-taught, never learning directly from his father except by listening. In the 1960s, and more so the 70s, the Bamako music scene was being influenced by sounds from further afield, especially black American music: soul music was particularly popular as was Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Smith, and British rock acts such as Led Zeppelin. Exposure to these sounds, and Bamako's modern ensembles, would both be important to Toumani's musical development.

A child prodigy, Toumani began playing the kora at the age of five, and at that time, the Malian Government was engaged in an active programme of encouraging regional ensembles to represent local traditions. Toumani was recruited to the ensemble from Koulikoro (some 60 kms east of Bamako) with whom he made his public debut at the age of 13 to great local acclaim. In 1984 Toumani joined the group of brilliant young musicians who accompanied the great diva Kandia Kouyate, the best known and most powerful female griot singer in Mali, with whom he toured Africa extensively, still only 19 years old.

Although not learning directly from his father Toumani took from him the idea of developing the kora as a solo instrument, and then took it to another level. Toumani discovered a way to play bass, rhythm and solo all at the same time on the kora, a method which would take him to the world stage. Toumani first came to the Europe in 1986 to accompany another Malian singer, Ousmane Sacko, and ended up staying in London for seven months. During this period, at the age of 21, he recorded his first solo album 'Kaira'. This was a groundbreaking album - it was the first ever solo kora album and it still remains a best seller and one of the finest albums of kora music to date. In 1986 Toumani also made his first appearance at a WOMAD festival at which he made a significant impact.

During this period in the UK he met and worked informally with musicians from many different fields of music and encountered traditions that he had not previously known, such as Indian classical music, from which he derived the "jugalbandi" idea (musical dialogue between two instruments) that has since become one of his trademarks.

His first major recorded collaboration was with the Spanish flamenco group Ketama. When he first met them they immediately began doing "palmas" (interlocked flamenco clapping) to his music. Toumani couldn't believe that that they could have such an understanding of the rhythmic complexities of his music; it was as if they had always been listening to each other's traditions. The resulting album 'Songhai', with pieces like Jarabi, was a perfect synthesis of kora and flamenco.

For Toumani experimentation is simply part of the job of a modern griot, "The griot's role is making communication between people, but not just historical communication. In Mali I can work in the traditional way, elsewhere I can work in a different way. Why not?" In 1990 Toumani formed the Symmetric Orchestra. For Toumani the name evokes a perfect balance - a symmetry - between tradition and modernity, and between the contributions of musicians from a number of closely related countries. Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Mali itself, were all part of the medieval Mandé Empire. Toumani had the idea of recreating the cultural equilibrium of the Mandé Empire in a modern musical context - offsetting traditional and electric guitars with hard-edged sabar drumming; praise-singing and lute-riffing alongside pounding kit drums, with Toumani's own rippling kora phrases through it all. The orchestra name was first used on CD with the elaborate 1992 project, 'Shake The Whole World', released only in Japan and Mali. Maintaining a weekly residence at the Hogon in Bamako throughout Toumani's career, the group continued to evolve and grow over the years culminating in the release of the acclaimed album 'Boulevard de l'Indépendance' in 2005, and the extensive international touring that followed.

In the early-mid 1990s, in Bamako, Toumani began to gather around him a number of exceptionally talented musicians such as the brilliant Bassekou Kouyate on the ngoni, and Keletigui Diabaté on balafon, cultivating a certain sound and approach to his music -with a type of jazz-jugalbandi-griot instrumental ensemble which can be heard on his album 'Djelika' (as in the piece Kandjoura) released in 1995. In the same year Toumani travelled to Madrid to record 'Songhai 2'.

In 1998 he recorded a kora duet album with Ballake Sissoko; their two fathers released the 1970s classic Cordes Anciennes (Ancient Strings), so the new album was called 'New Ancient Strings', it was their tribute to the original record and an attempt at bringing such material to a modern audience.

The connections between the blues and West African music are well known. Taj Mahal had listened to, and played with, many great kora players, and what most struck him as bearing an uncanny resemblance with the blues was the plucking techniques of the kora and other Malian string instruments. "They say that blues and jazz came from Africa" says Toumani." "The kora and ngoni, they're very old, many centuries old. So maybe the blues were once being played on these instruments. Making the album with Taj is like bringing the old and new together." The album 'Kulanjan' was released in 1999.

Constantly looking to evolve and innovate, Toumani's next album 'MALIcool' with American free jazz trombonist Roswell Rudd saw him take another step out on the edge. The arrangements on this album are sparse, leaving everybody room to improvise, and there are a few unexpected pieces such as an interpretation of Thelonius Monk's 'Hank', a swinging version of a Welsh folk song, and a leftfield take on Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy'.

Toumani has participated in many other recording projects both at home and abroad: he appears on Ali Farka Touré's eponymous debut album for World Circuit; he toured with Salif Keita and appears on both his acclaimed album "Papa" and his latest release 'Mbemba'; he was part of Damon Albarn's 'Mali Music' project; he is featured on Kasse Mady Diabaté's 2004 Grammy nominated album "Kassi Kasse", and in 2007 he featured on the track 'Hope' on Björk's album 'Volta' leading to an inspired guest appearance on her set at the Glastonbury Festival.

In recent years Toumani has been enjoying recognition for his contribution to the development of the kora, and as a key figure in African music. In 2004 he received the Zyriab des Virtuoses, a UNESCO prize awarded at the Mawazine Festival organised by King Mohammed 6th of Morocco. He is the first black African ever to be given the prize. Toumani is an active and dynamic member of the Malian musical community, and influential to the new generation. He has been taking steps to help preserve the legacy of traditional kora music in Mali, and to educate future generations of their rich musical heritage, whilst encouraging them to also explore the creative possibilities within music. He is President/Director of Mandinka Kora Productions, who actively promote the kora through workshops, festivals, and various cultural events. Toumani is also a teacher of the kora and of modern and traditional music at the Balla Fasseke Conservatoire of Arts, Culture and Multimedia, which opened in Bamako at the end of 2004.

2004 also saw Toumani begin working with World Circuit for a trilogy of albums recorded at sessions in the Mandé Hotel in Bamako. The first release from these sessions was the duets album 'In the Heart of the Moon' recorded with the great Ali Farka Touré, which won the Best Traditional World Music Album GRAMMY Award. Second in the trilogy was 'Boulevard de l'Indépendance' by Toumani Diabaté's Symmetric Orchestra, packing the fruit of ten years of experimentation into some of the densest, punchiest, most richly textured music to have come out Africa (the third part being Ali's final solo album 'Savane'). Toumani accompanied Ali on his last concert tour in the summer of 2005 during which they spent 3 days in a London studio recording the follow up to 'In the Heart of the Moon'. Featuring contributions from Orlando 'Cachaíto' López on bass, 'Ali and Toumani' further demonstrates the magic bond between the two masters, the album sees its long awaited release in February 2010.

The Symmetric Orchestra proved to be a revelation on the international touring scene. Taking time out from their weekly residency at Bamako's Hogon club (recently moved to Le Diplomat), the band have been building a reputation for themselves at their own headline concerts at venues such as New York's Carnegie Hall, and festival appearances such as Glastonbury, Nice Jazz Festival, and Montreal Jazz Festival.

In addition to this hive of activity, Toumani was also busy working on his new album 'The Mandé Variations', released in February 2008. Having spent years refining and perfecting his technique to an unparalleled level Toumani's career comes full circle. 'The Mandé Variations' is all-acoustic, Toumani's first album of solo kora since his groundbreaking debut album 'Kaira' released over twenty years ago.

Both the album and subsequent solo recitals were met with universal critical acclaim, with the return to a more intimate setting also proving extremely popular with the listening public. Toumani would also go on to perform a special concert with the London Symphony Orchestra which may prompt further explorations in classical music; and the year came to an exciting end with Toumani being nominated for another GRAMMY Award and an NAACP Image Award for 'The Mandé Variations'. Toumani was appointed UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador in December 2008, using his music to spread awareness on HIV and AIDS, and he has already participated in various outreach projects in Mali.

Following the release of the album 'Ali and Toumani', Toumani Diabaté and his band will play his interpretations of the music of Ali Farka Touré in a series of special concerts starting in April 2010.

Throughout Toumani's career, each of the albums he has released are distinctly unique and highlight his diversity as a musician. This is indeed what Toumani is so good at - bringing together the old and new in timeless beautiful music, the very best that Africa has.

Based on original text by Lucy Duran;
adaptation and additional text by Dave McGuire