"Gently intense playing and songs that make you believe that the blues must have originated in this part of Africa." – The Guardian
Lovers of great music the world over are mourning the recent passing of Ali Farka Toure, but the spirit of the great Malian bluesman will live on in Afel Bocoum, making a rare trip to Europe, in what is sure to be a homage to his mentor and friend of three decades.
Bocoum was the unassuming star of Damon Alborn's Mali Music project in 2002, and like Toure, hails from Niafunke, the small desert town on a bend of the mighty Niger river, and deep in the heartland of the old Manding empire, whose influence once encompassed all of West Africa. Manding culture and the Niger are the inspiration for Bocoum's praise songs, weaving stories around its disparate peoples and their relationship to the land.
Bocoum draws deep from the well with sparse, acoustic music, his languid voice and bluesy riffs in easy conversation with the aristocratic sound of traditional Malian instruments like the calabash gourd drum, njurkle lute and njarka violin.
It's an intoxicating sound, with artful rhythmic shifts, hypnotic call and response and a slow burning intensity. His late master would surely approve.