Samba Touré ‘Albala’ (Glitter Beat) 4/5

samba-touréMalian guitarist and vocalist Samba Touré returns with his third album as leader and his pedigree can simply be gauged from his membership of the legendary Ali Farka Touré’s band and he is both a reflective and sensitive musician with an acute awnareness of his country’s current plight. Now in his forties, Touré is a seasoned musician who grew up in a small village in theTimbuktu region of Mali which has recently witnessed turbulent political unrest and was raised by his mother alone along with his brother. It was indeed the former who introduced the young boy to music since his mother sang with Farka Touré at one of the major festivals in the country, La Biennale. Samba left the village to seek fortune in the capital Bamako and after serving apprenticeships in two bands, Samba was, in 1997, offered the opportunity by Ali Farka Touré to tour Europe and the United States. The experience proved to be a major eye opener for the guitarist who subsequently was able to develop his own musical style which incorporates elements of Malian blues and created his own group, Fondo. This was equally the title of his first album that surfaced in 2003 and was a national hit in Mali. Fast forward ten years to the present and Samba has assembled including himself that is made up of Djimé Sissoko on ngoni and Madou Sanogo on various percussion. Traditional acoustic sokou, or violin is a feature of the delightful ‘Fondora’ with lovely call and response vocals and a rap by Samba. It is a song devoted to combatting all forms of violence and given recent events in northern Mali we can all endorse that message. It would be inconceivable that Ali Farka Touré’s presence was not felt somewhere on the album and the hypnotic ditty ‘Ayé go mila’ (I only think about her) is a gentle nod in that direction. Equally there is some fabulous interplay between musicians with distorted guitar on ‘Awn bè ye kelenye’ which is sung in Bambara and pleads for unity among all Malians. Some readers may already have witnessed Samba Touré live since on the 2010 tribute to Ali Farka Touré tour led by Toumani Diabaté, Samba was an invited guest member. The album title refers to the notion of risk or danger in the Songhai language. Tim Stenhouse