I copied this cassette from Ali Farka Touré in the early 1990s. He used to bring cassettes along on his travels, usually from local celebrities*, and occasionally of his own work. In turn I made copies for him of music which over time had become rare in Mali, - like for example the Koni Coumaré lp on Fiesta, or (good quality) cassettes of Toumani Koné.
The cassette contains private recordings made by Ali himself, of a concert in Dofana by his group Asko, featuring Ali, Hamma Sankaré and Amadou 'Affel' Bocoum. So the recordings were made 'chez lui', and if you ask me, this can clearly be heard in the result. Ali is obviously in his element. Take the last song: this is music for wide horizons, for the slow flow of water in the nearby river.
I haven't checked this, but I wouldn't be surprised if all of the songs have - in one version or another - been released on the many cd's Ali has left behind. I do know the first song was re-recorded a few years later for the album "The Source".
But this cd-version, in my opinion, can't compete with the version on this cassette.
In case you're wondering about the surrealistic picture on the right: I have added this partial screenprint from Google maps to give you a (very rough) idea of the layout of the village that is the subject of this song. The yellow line on the top right is a road. So to get from Niafunké (the principle village in the cercle, as Affel remarks) the river seems the easiest way. And the 'vingt kilomètres' (twenty kilometers) must be the distance from Niafunké to Dofana by pirogue. The song celebrates a project in Dofana to use water from the river for irrigation (thus enabling some agriculture to take place in this remote locality) and the initiator of this project.
Ali himself followed this example some years later, and eventually even retired from music all together to concentrate on this original form of culture....
Dofana Oct. 1990
I found this video on YouTube, which seems very appriopriate with this post:
PS: alternative download link.
* I'll post some of these later (...oh oh, there he goes again, promising things....)