Ali Farka Toure has passed on
I had already heard that Ali Farka Toure, the legendary Malian guitarist, had suffered paralysis a couple of months ago. Last night I learned that he has died at the age of 66. What a tragic loss to the world! Please try to read Jon Pareles' obit in the New York Times:
"Mr. Touré forged connections between the hypnotic modal riffs of Malian songs and the driving one-chord boogie of American bluesmen like John Lee Hooker; he mingled the plucked patterns of traditional songs with the aggressive lead-guitar lines of rock. He sang in various West African languages — his own Sonrai as well as Songhai, Bambara, Peul, Tamasheck and others — reflecting the traditional foundations of the songs he wrote. His lyrics, in West African style, represented the conscience of a community, urging listeners to work hard, honor the past and act virtuously."
Here's a shorter obit from Radio Canada: (rough translation)
"Tuesday, March 7
"Ali Farka Touré, born in 1939 in Timbuktu, discovered music at 10 when he learned to play the gurkel, a kind of single-stringed guitar. In 1956, however, at a concert by the Guinean guitarist Ketita Fodeba, the young man understood how much music would mean to the core of his existence. He became one of the truly great guitarists.
"With Ry Cooder
"Very quickly, he opened up to the outside world and discovered Ray Charles, Otis Redding, and especially John Lee Hooker, who influenced him the most. In 1995 Toure won a Grammy Award, the highest musical honor in the United States (the first time an African had won), for his collaboration with Ry Cooder on the album Talking Timbuktu.
"He repeated in 2005 and took a second Grammy for his album In the Heart of the Mood, recorded with noted kora player Toumani Diabaté.
"The artist had suffered from cancer for many years and was paralyzed several months ago, said Ali Guindo, coordinator of the Ali Farka Touré foundation.
"In Bamako, the musical world is in mourning. Nearly all the radios of the capital have suspended their usual programming. The artist will be buried Wednesday."