Vieux Farka Touré Comes the Freight

The Mali guitarist is promoting the release of his latest album, Six Degrees Records, Samba.



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Vieux Farka Touré brings his gritty blues to The Freight.

Photo courtesy Sachyn Mita

In a region brimming with exceptionally talented musicians, Mali’s Vieux Farka Touré stands out as an artist ideally equipped to bridge continents. The guitarist possesses a striking sound marked by red-soil grit, blues feeling, and a stinging attack. While his sound is unmistakable, it’s also remarkably open, as his incantatory call-and-response lines and architectural sense of space leave plenty of room for other voices.

Touré performs at Freight & Salvage Sunday, April 22, marking the release of his latest album on San Francisco’s Six Degrees Records, Samba. In many ways the projects distills influences that have seeped into his music over the past six years, a period marked by audacious cross-cultural collaborations. He has forged his deepest connection with Israeli pop star, singer, and keyboardist Idan Raichel, a partnership first documented on 2012’s The Tel Aviv Session (Cumbancha). A world music landmark, the album builds on the conversational legacy of Talking Timbuktu by the guitarists Ry Cooder and Vieux’s late, legendary father, Ali Farka Touré. Working as The Touré-Raichel Collective, they reunited in 2014 for The Paris Session (Cumbancha), which Touré followed the next year on Six Degrees Records with Touristes, an unexpected collaboration with New York-based singer Julia Easterlin.

With the 10 new songs he documents on Samba, Touré seems to be mourning the destruction wrought during the brief and brutal occupation of his homeland by Isis-affiliated Islamists, while exercising his unbridled musical curiosity as he dips into funk and reggae, rock and griot praise songs. The results are never less than bracing.

Vieux Farka Touré, 7 p.m. Sunday, April 22, Freight & Salvage, Berkeley, $24-$28, 510-644-2020, TheFreight.org.

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