“how Khruangbin updated the music of Mali's maestro Ali Farka Touré” (BBC)

Article Contributed by Shore Fire Media | Published on Tuesday, September 20, 2022

This Friday Khruangbin and Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré will release their highly-anticipated collaborative album Ali honoring Vieux’s late father, the great Ali Farka Touré, on Dead Oceans in partnership with Night Time Stories Ltd. Together, BBC says, “they've concocted a striking and stylish tribute album that honours Ali's music while spinning it off in unexpected new directions.”

Already the LP has been highlighted everywhere from The New York Times and NPR (“labyrinthine fusion of dub, blues and Malian grooves,”), to GQ and NME. And in a new profile for BBC the Houston trio explains the origin of the LP: “The songs on the album were hand-picked by Ali's 11 children…" we went in blind and recorded eight songs, with him [Vieux] teaching them to us, in a way,” says Khruangbin drummer DJ Johnson. Vieux says the sessions were informed by his father, who prioritized improvisation in the studio. “Unmoored from the weight of Ali's history, Khruangbin followed their instincts - adding elements of zydeco and cajun music to those west African rhythms.”

Ali’s legacy and impact are hard to overstate. Merging his much-loved traditional Malian musical styles with distinct elements of the blues, singing in the local languages of Songhay, Tamasheq, Fulfulde and Bambara. The result was the creation of a groundbreaking new genre, now well known as the ‘desert blues, earning him 3 Grammy awards, widespread reverence and the nickname of the ‘African John Lee Hooker.’

And there were no better musicians to take on the challenge than Vieux and Khruangbin as with each new project both broaden their horizons, embrace new challenges and further entrench their shared reputation as some of the world’s most innovative musicians.

Recently the pairing played a sold-out show in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on one of the hottest days of the year as noted by Vanity Fair, and praised by Variety in a live review. There will be more live shows and appearances from the pairing this fall at festivals, and shows in Denver, Las Vegas, Mesa and Santa Fe.