Blues from Mali to Los Angeles


In one corner of the ring: the late Ali Farka Toure, genius Malian musician and likely the most influential performer of African “blues.” When he picked up his guitar, Toure was often compared to Johnny Lee Hooker, but his style was much more complicated and textured than that reference.

In the other corner: Los Angeles native Ry Cooder, an American guitarist and producer who dabbled in genres from gospel and calypso to country and traditional Cuban.

Put the two together, and the result was intense. Sensual, lyrical, simply gorgeous. Their 1994 Grammy-winning collaboration, “Talkin’ Timbuktu,” deserves a spot on best records lists.

Take a look at the earlier post on Amadou & Mariam: West African musical influences are everywhere in our beloved Union.

Below, “Ai Du,” with both Toure and Cooder on the guitar:


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