Tag Archives: Ruby

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté – Ruby

This week’s track comes from a special collaboration between the two greats of Malian music, Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté. The album entitled Ali and Toumani containing this week’s track was released in 2010 and was Ali’s last studio album, it being released 4 years after his death.

Here in a review by Nonesuch Records, Diabaté talks about his relationship with Touré and the music they made together. It is taken from a conversation with and edited by Andy Morgan:

“When you’re listening to this album it’s like you’re reading a book about Ali. The album was going to be a summing up of all the albums that Ali had done in the past. It wasn’t about covering old songs just because there weren’t any new ones, no not at all. It was about revealing all the different possibilities once again. It was the very last album he made.”

So the song Ruby is the first track on the final musical adventure of Ali Farka Touré. It must be remembered that Toumani and Ali come from different parts of Mali and two very different musical backgrounds. During the recording of the album Ali was very ill and battled to keep playing. This didn’t stop him mastering the griot songs that Toumani taught him, which were a foreign style to Ali. However, to honour the great man, Ruby has been selected as this week’s song of the week. Producer Nick Gold explains why this song is important:

“This is how Ali played alone in private. If he played to himself and you happened to be in the room with him, he would touch the guitar very softly. It was beautiful to watch. But when he got into the studio, the volume was upped by 10!! But this time he didn’t do that. “Ruby” is a Bobo song that Ali had heard in San, a village on the road to his home in Niafunke. It must have been a completely new tune to Toumani. A lot of this repertoire was new to him.

My 5 year old daughter Ruby and I were sat on the floor at Ali’s feet for this. Because the kora is such a quiet instrument, you have to be very still when it’s being recorded. Any creak or breath can be heard. We held our breath through much of the song. When it was over I asked “What’s that one called?” And Ali just looked at Ruby and said, “Ruby!”

Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté – Ruby