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16 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 25, 2006
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Savane + Ali & Toumani + In The Heart of the Moon
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Toure recorded Savane in the Malian capital of Bamako, as part of a three-disc project dubbed the Hotel Mande Sessions, after the studio in which the albums were cut. Savane is the last, perhaps most eloquent, installment. In concept and execution, the sessions recall the magical combination of spontaneity and virtuosity that marked the debut releases from the Buena Vista Social Club. Toure offers reverberating, incantatory vocals to accompany his lean, hypnotically repetitive guitar lines.

Savane, the great African guitarist and bluesman Ali Farka Touré's final solo studio album, was recorded in his native Mali toward the end of his life, when the artist knew his days were numbered. He spent his last years in his home village of Niafunké, concentrating on farming and family matters, jamming with local musicians of an evening. This impassioned, roots-drenched, mostly acoustic valedictory finds the Maestro's stalking rhythms and high-noon-at-the-crossroads, dusty desert-to-delta vocals in no less than life-summing form. "Soya" (track 5) seems to stand still in a million directions, while "Hanana Soko" (track 9) features a searing njarka fiddle spinning delirious circles around its throaty accompanying percussion. Pee Wee Ellis (sax) and Little George Sueref (harmonica) each manage to make strong impressions while adhering to the groove at hand. Afel Boucoum, a talented younger musician who has been mentioned as Touré's most likely successor (as if such a thing were possible!), graces "Njarou," the last tune. The other players are also at the top of their game, as fluttering ngoni (a West African spike lute) riffs weave in and out and airy female vocals float like a breeze off the river Niger. There are reports that Touré senior sat in on his son's upcoming album and scads of archival material will undoubtedly materialize. But his unsentimental, voluptuously masculine, spirit-guided magic is captured at its best, for all time, in this magnificent farewell. --Christina Roden

1. Erdi
2. Yer Bounda Fara
3. Beto
4. Savane
5. Soya
6. Penda Yoro
7. Machengoidi
8. Ledi Coumbe
9. Hanana Soko
10. Gambari
11. Banga
12. Njarou

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 25, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000G1R3BW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,015 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 51 people found the following review helpful By o dubhthaigh VINE VOICE on August 15, 2006
Format: Audio CD
One of the incredible tragedies in Music this year is the passing of Ali Farka Toure. It is impossible to exagerate his importance to African, Malian, Blues, World musics. He is as seminal figure as anyone in any discipline. Last year he recorded the mystically beautiful IN THE HEART OF THE MOON with Toumani Diabete, and this record as well as Diabete's magical SYMMETRY ORCHESTRA recording just out were recorded nearly simultaneously in the same hotel as the MOON sessions.

Toure's hypnotic guiatr work is set to haunting effect alongside ngoni players like Mama Sissoko, American sax player and Van Morrison collaborator Pee Wee Ellis, calabash virtuouso Souleye Kane, and percussionists like Oumar Toure. This is the cream of Mali's traditional music set, and some of the best international sidemen you can have. For Ellis, it must have been a career highpoint to join in such august company and he plays as though this may never happen again.

And sadly, it will not. These are love songs, songs about life along a river, songs of politics and wisdom that ring with an authenticity that almost all of today's music lacks. There are few if any African-Americans whose records could hold a candle to this, let alone white, Carribbean, or any other ethnicity. This is music born of a culture that transcends those identifying markers and reaches into that which is quintessentially human in all of us. Considering that Human Life likely started in these environs, that should not be surprising. That Toure can articulate what is so primally essential to life and bring forth such brilliant contributions from his collaborators set this effort on a plain few have even thought about reaching.

This is the blues.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By latejazzlover on March 6, 2007
Format: Audio CD
If ever an artist embodied the struggle between staying true to his roots and musical exploration, it was the late, great Ali Farka Touré. It would have been easy for him to become a fixture on the international stage playing with anyone he chose and the financial rewards would have been considerable. Instead, he turned his attention to expressing his own culture and exploring the links between it and the surrounding cultures. In doing so he became a local hero and a powerful symbol of national unity.

Although we usually think of `fusion' as a mix between something traditional and something Western, one could argue that Ali was permanently engaged in the twin processes of fusing and distillation most of his life -- although his attention rarely wandered far from West Africa.

"Savane" was a work in progress for several years, but it was mainly recorded at the now legendary Hotel Mande sessions in Bamako, which saw the recording of his sensational collaboration with Toumani Diabate "In the Heart of the Moon" as well as Toumani's own "Symmetric Orchestra sessions", which has just been released.

Every note of Ali's guitar and every sung word on "Savane" could come from no other artist. And yet, this is an album unlike any of previous albums.

There is an unusually international ensemble of musicians including JB horn man Pee Wee Ellis (who has been on most World Circuit albums of late) and Fain S. Dueñas of Radio Tarifa plus ngoni musicians Bassekou Kouyate and Mama Sissoko and Dasy Saré.

Now let's be under no illusions, each piece is bent to the will of Ali Farka Touré but under his distinctive canopy all kinds of interesting and surprising things are going on.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Christopher O. Tollefsen on July 28, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Ali Farka Toure called this album his best "ever" and, amazingly, it is. While Talking Timbuktu and Niafunke were mostly great, they had a bit of filler, and didn't always hold together in the way The Source, for example, did. Savane, on the other hand, is a complete, and completely excellent record from start to finish. Toure's blues stomp is in full force, and the desert sounds of the ngoni and njarka give Toure the perfect accompaniment to his snaky guitar and keeing voice. The album has the hypnotic feel of some of the recent gnawa inspired music to have come out of West Africa. The final track is one of the most beautiful in the Toure collection -- a fitting end to an album, a career, a musical life.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By James Ferguson VINE VOICE on May 10, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Ali Farka Toure looks and sounds like a man at peace with himself on this his final recording. The man who turned his back on the popular Afrobeat rhythms of his day, also turned his back on Western recording studios, returning to his roots in Mali, where he set up his own farm and recording studio, nurturing a village and a new generation of musicians. Savane, like Niafunke before, is a straight forward album, accompanied by local musicians, with a guest appearance by Pee Wee Ellis on two selections, and drawing on a wellspring of traditional Malian rhythms. In his music Ali Farka Toure demonstrated the connection between traditional West African music and the Delta Blues. Numerous comparisons were drawn to artists like John Lee Hooker and Lightnin' Hopkins, but he had a sound all his own, and at his peak was a towering figure in the world music industry, inspiring numerous Western as well as African musicians, resulting in the annual Festival in the Desert, which was captured in a 2003 recording on CD and DVD. Ali Farka Toure was also featured in Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues - A Musical Journey. For those who would like to sample some of his earlier recordings, I would suggest the recently released boxed set Red & Green.
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