This is one of my favourite cassettes by Ali 'Farka' Touré. It features Ali on guitar and occasionally on vocal, accompanying singer Haïra Arby (also known as Khaira). Haïra appears to have become rather famous, even outside Tombouctou (see below). But this is from the 1980s, when she was only popular on a regional (and - to a lesser extent - national) level.
The cassette has a rare and beautiful intimacy, primarily as a result of Ali's fantastic guitar playing. At times it is almost like he is singing with his guitar, either guiding or following Haïra. But then the guitar takes off, meandering, curling and dancing in circles.
As far as I can tell, Haïra is singing in sonrai and tamachek. Personally, I prefer her pure singing on this cassette to her later work, including the acclaimed cassette "Ya Rassoul" which she made six or seven years ago.
Comparing the version of "Aigna" (sonrai for "mother") with the one on "Ya Rassoul", one can almost touch the deep emotion in the version on this cassette. It is, by the way, the only title which I have been able to trace.
Farka & Haïra (local cassette)
For good measure I am borrowing the video of the "Ya Rassoul" version from afropopstar.
(posted in loving memory of my ex-mother-in-law Assitan Sango)
P.S.: Shortly after posting this, it was brought to my attention that the same cassette has been posted on the VOA blog. That post adds a lot of information about the setting in which these recordings were made.
I was initially inclined to withdraw this (redundant) post, but have decided not to do so for two reasons: 1. the tracks appear not to be the same and 2. the quality of the cassette is not the same. The latter may be a result of the fact that my copy was obtained in the early 1990s, and is perhaps closer to the original.
P.S.2: The brilliant photo of Ali was taken by the great Ton Verhees (also responsible for that great photo of Remmy Ongala, and many many other...)
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