Tag Archives: Idan Raichel

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

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

The Touré-Raichel Collective – Bamba

This week’s song comes from a unscripted, collaborative album comprised of Vieux Farka Touré and Israeli piano ‘superstar’ Idan Raichel, with mutual friend Yossi Fine on bass and Touré’s calabash player Souleymane Kane. Its an exceptional album for so many reasons. Firstly, Touré and Raichel met by chance in an airport in Germany in 2008. Raichel idolised Vieux’s father, Ali, and he was desperately excited to get something going between the pair. After a performance alongside him in Cartagena, Spain, Vieux developed strong respect for the Raichel’s global outlook and musical brilliance. Later, Vieux accepted Raichel’s invitation to be the first concert of his world music curatorship at the Tel Aviv Opera House. The day after this marvellous concert, where all four of the above musicians featured, Raichel and Touré headed to a friend’s recording studio and within a few hours had created the album The Tel Aviv Sessions.

Eric Herman, Vieux’s manager, was in the studio: “I was thinking to myself, ‘Alright, this is fun, a really nice little jam.’ Soon there were two of three tracks and I started to think ‘Hmm, maybe there will be something here we could use…’ After bout five or six amazing songs were laid down I said, ‘Wait a minute, we have a full album here!”

Eric explains that there were no expectations. It was really just a selection of musicians doing a jam, which during everyone involved, especially the musicians, soon realised was turning into something very special. “It was really the most fluid and pleasant recording experience…what struck me was the nakedness of it…this was entirely freeform – an open exchange.”

The album in total is an excellent, and perhaps only, example of Vieux Farka Touré’s acoustic talents. Other musicians that were stumped at the work that had been created were merged into some tracks at the stage where Idan was editing and smoothing out what had been made. For example, the Persian tar instrument on the track ‘Kfar’ was played by Yankele Segal. ‘Bamba’ – this week’s song – is the best example, in my opinion, of the fusing of piano and acoustic guitar from the album. Raichel provides one explaination for why the music weaves together so beautifully:

“The way that I play piano during the session comes from the kora…sometimes I’m using the strings of the piano, plucking them with my fingers like a harp, other times I’m beating the piano as if it was a drum. I use the piano as a whole instrument.”

All in all, the song is an incredible testament to the versatility of world music and the intelligence of its greatest exponents.It is amazing to think that ‘Bamba’ with so much beauty was created in a fragment of an afternoon. This song is also special as it featured as part of the music at my wedding, which was last Thursday. So forever it will have an exceptional meaning and have the ability to transport me to a very, very happy place.

The Touré-Raichel Collective – Bamba