Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

The Touré-Raichel Collective – Debo

Last month Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré and Israeli pianist Idan Raichel releases their second album The Paris Session. The next instalment of this majestic collaboration was meant to entitled The Bamako Session, but prevailing logistical and security issues forced the pair into choosing the French capital instead.

As a result of not being as spontaneous as the pair’s first album The Tel-Aviv Session, during The Paris Session they took the opportunity to be even more experimental. More instruments are brought in (the addition of Niv Toar‘s exquisite trumpet being a particular favourite) and the production and choreography is more adventurous. The album also features a curious piano cover of Diaraby, the song Ali Farka Touré made famous in Talking Timbuktu.

Following the album’s release, much has been made of the significance of a Jew and a Muslim collaborating in this way. Both artists shrug this symbolism off. Reassuringly, its appears that this point hadn’t really occurred to them. Instead, Raichel uses different imagery that further presses-home the expansive and ground-breaking nature of the innovative music they make:

“I’m a musician from Israel, and I will always make Israeli music. And Vieux Farka Touré for me represents the spirit of Mali. I think world music artists by definition are people who reflect the soundtrack of the place they come from. I think that this collaboration between Mali and Israel—and remember we don’t even have diplomatic relations between the two countries—creates a new imaginary island located somewhere between Bamako and Tel Aviv.” 

This week’s Song of the Week is track 8 on the new album. Using the link below the song – along with the rest of the album – can be previewed by using the interface on the right-hand side. ‘Debo’ is the perfect example of the two musicians working together on their respective instruments in a call-and-response fashion, as if the instruments themselves are old friends  sharing the joy of being reunited.

The Touré-Raichel Collective – Debo

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