Lobi Traore: copyright 1999 Oliver Gresset

Lobi Traore
Cobalt/Melodie (www.budamusique.com)

If you happen to be in Bamako these days and you're in the mood for some live music, you'll probably end up seeing Lobi Traore. He's been playing the Mali bar scene for years, and recently teamed up with French harmonica player Vincent Bucher to record the ten songs that make up Duga.

Lobi's sound on Duga is pretty stripped down, but doesn't convey the sparseness of, say, Ali Farka Toure. This is music for smoky bars, and the appropriate addition of the harmnica gives the album a more bluesy feel than his previous recordings. Noteworthy selections include the domestic hit, "Tiekoroba" ("Old Man"), an up-tempo number with a nice conversation between Boucher's harmonica and Lobi's guitar that moves with a crescendo of djembe and ngoni (hunter's lute) to the sudden end. "Lala", about a young girl lost in the bush, is an interesting tune, underlain with solid bass lines and the constant clacking of the calabash. The cries of Lobi and his female backup singers are broken up by a simple, funky five note theme on the bass line of the lead guitar and peppery djembe exclamations. On "Sayo" one of the backup singers, upcoming star Ramata Diakite, shares the stage with Lobi in mourning the loss of his first wife; it's a pretty simple song but Ramata really makes a mark with her haunting lines. Overall, the album is not as spicy as his earlier Bamako, but if you can't make it to the Makelekele for a Tuesday night live show it's the closest you'll get. - Craig Tower

Photo: © 1999 Oliver Gresset

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