Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté

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Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté
Ali and Toumani
World Circuit/Nonesuch

In a recording fraught with so much passing (Touré died in 2006, and bassist Orlando "Cachaíto" López in 2009), the long-awaited publishing of the final meeting of Touré and Diabaté is a sublime tribute to the greatness of these two musicians and the legacy they have created (and in Diabaté's case, will continue to create). Joined on some tracks by Vieux Farka Touré (congas and backing vocals), Souleye Kane (backing vocals), Ali Magasa (backing vocals), or Tim Keiper (percussion), their second time together as a duo brings to mind the still unsurpassed matching of Baaba Maal and Mansour Seck so many years ago, on the guitars and reverb-soaked Djam Leelli.

Simplicity reigns here, as guitarist and kora master exchange phases in a conversation that feels intimate, as if two old friends were in a public place, whispering in each others ear, telling tales only for themselves, but just loud enough that they know you hear the story, too. They invite you in, but they expect you to stay a few feet back, respectful of their moment together.

"Be Mankan" is just such a moment, as each musician shows the grace and ease with which they can move between their respective regional styles. Diabaté says the song is about "blessings that make the tears fall," and you can almost hear them falling amid the smiles in this waltzing exchange. The collection moves about from slow to up-tempo, the backing musicians' appearances are almost transparent and Ali and Toumani never lose the intimacy of this moment. - CF

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