ARTIST: Sidi Toure
LABEL: Thrill Jockey
Guitarist, singer and bandleader Sidi Toure is one of the unsung heroes of Malian music. Born in 1959 in Gao in Mali’s southeast, he led the regional orchestra Songhai Stars in the 1980s and released an album on Stern’s Africa in 1996. He resurfaced as a recording artist in 2011, playing desert blues in the manner of his distant relative Ali Farka Toure. Fast-forward to today, and Sidi is fronting a Bamako band featuring outstanding musicians a generation younger than him. Their sound is thoroughly modern Mali – the aggressive rock-influenced style pioneered by Bassekou Kouyate that’s taken hold since the 2012 civil war. Yes they play Songhai-style desert blues on tracks 4, 5, 6 and 9, but it’s louder and dirtier than anything Ali Farka ever waxed. Then they sprint through 7 and 8 at punk rock tempos that essentially no Malian band used until recently. Sidi takes a back seat in his own group; each song here is a showcase for the virtuoso soloing of electric guitarist Djadje Traore and ngoni player Papou Dagnon (who will certainly remind you of Bassekou Kouyate). Wow, this is exciting music, some of the best of what Mali has to offer today.
TOP TRACKS: 4 5 6 7 8 9
ALSO RECOMMENDED: 1 2 3 10 11
Bill Lupoletti is world music director at WRIR 97.3 FM and wrir.org in Richmond, Virginia, where he hosts the Global A Go-Go radio program on Wednesdays at 3 PM and writes the globalagogo.com world music blog.