I know next to nothing about Malian music, although I do know that it has a rich heritage, and has inspired Western musicians such as Damon Albarn, who has played with Malian artists including Rokia Traoré (below) and Afel Bocoum (here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxycsP0yea8). Efforts by Islamists in 2012 to suppress music in Mali had limited success.

I listened to Ali Farka Touré’s 2006 album Savane, apparently one of the “1001 albums you must hear before you die”, sung in a mixture of French and local dialects. I followed this up with his 1994 collaboration with eclectic US musician Ry Cooder, Talking Timbuktu.

Ali Farka Touré is probably the biggest name to come out of Mali. He died shortly after the release of Savane, which is regarded as his magnum opus, and led to worldwide recognition. He was posthumously awarded the Commandeur de l’Ordre National du Mali (the highest national honour), and given a state funeral.

Savane comprises 13 tracks, with a running time of just under an hour. The title song tells of a man who has left the savannah for urban Europe and longs to return. The performance below was one his last:

The music, with its foundations in Malian folk, reminded me of US country and blues music (which were influenced by African musical styles), with heavy use of strings and harmonica, and sometimes plaintive vocals. Interestingly, a key instrument is the ngoni, a sort of African lute that may have been an influence on the development of the banjo. Something a bit different for my weekend listening!

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