Vieux Farka Touré (World Village, 2006)

Before his untimely passing last year, Malian singer/guitarist Ali Farka Touré was one of the most widely revered musicians on the African continent. Now his son Vieux Farka Touré is carrying the torch, with the release of his self-titled debut CD. Vieux Farka Touré is a promising work from a young performer who certainly appears capable of making his own mark on the music of his homeland.

The nation of Mali has produced its share of fine guitarists. Habib Koité could hold his own trading licks with any other acoustic guitarist on the planet, and Amadou Bagayoko of Amadou & Mariam possesses a mastery of the electric guitar made all the more remarkable by his blindness. In terms of technical proficiency, the younger Touré is not quite a match for those two. However, he makes up for it with a strong sense of rhythm. On songs like the opener "Sangare" and "Ma Hine Cocore," Touré cranks out some grooves that are hard to resist. He gets some high profile help on his debut as well. His father contributed some guitar on a few tracks, in what turned out to be some of his final recordings. Toumani Diabaté, a mentor to Vieux and a virtuoso on the traditional African instrument called the kora, plays on a pair of instrumental duets, of which "Touré de Niafunké" is particularly good.

Certainly fans of Malian guitar music will want to give Vieux Farka Touré a listen. For those who aren't familiar with the style, there are plenty of performers worth checking out -- I've already mentioned Habib Koité and Amadou & Mariam, and of course there's always Vieux's father -- but Vieux Farka Touré has already earned the right to be mentioned in that group, and seems likely to get better from here.

Overall grade: A-

reviewed by Scott

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