By MORDECAI SPECKTOR
Popular Israeli composer, pianist and bandleader Idan Raichel will join forces with acclaimed Malian guitarist and songwriter Vieux Farka Touré live onstage April 16 at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis
Raichel has been dazzling audiences around the world for the past 10 years with his eclectic brand of music, which fuses rhythms and melodies from the Middle East, Ethiopia, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. The Idan Raichel Project, an ensemble of nine or 10 singers and musicians, has produced a body of lush, transcendently beautiful music, which can be heard on the group’s eponymous 2002 album and subsequent recordings.
The Israeli superstar met guitar virtuoso Vieux Farka Touré at an airport in Germany, in 2008, while both were on tour. That chance encounter led to a concert at the Tel Aviv Opera House, in November 2010. The show was followed by a free-flowing recording session, where Raichel and Touré were joined by Israeli bassist Yossi Fine and Malian calabash player Souleymane Kane.
The product of the acoustic session in Israel is now available on CD, The Touré-Raichel Collective’s premier recording, The Tel Aviv Session (Cumbancha). Tracks from the new album are on the Web for listening at: toureraichel.com. The quartet anchoring the Tel Aviv session will be touring the United States in April, with a stop at the Dakota.
(For AJW readers living south of the Twin Cities, the group will be at the Center for the Arts, on the University of Wisconsin-Platteville campus on the evening of April 17.)
Raichel — an avid fan of Touré’s father, the late legendary Ali Farka Touré — initially proposed that he join Touré’s band as a sideman, and play for free.
“When I first met Idan he looked like a crazy hippie to me,” Touré commented, according to a press release. “But he carried himself with a lot of confidence. He was cool and relaxed. I knew there must be something powerful about this guy. Then the minute we first played together, I knew that I was right. He has deep talent and a deep soul.”
Regarding The Tel Aviv Session, Raichel said that the intimate studio setting allowed him to explore different capabilities of his instrument: “The way that I play piano during the session comes from the kora [the traditional Malian 21-string harp]. Sometimes I’m using the strings of the piano, plucking them with my fingers like a harp, other times I’m beating the piano as if it were a drum. I use the piano as a whole instrument.”
In editing the tapes of the Tel Aviv recording session, additional musicians and singers were brought to enhance some of the songs. The Tel Aviv Session presents 11 songs, full of enchanting and ethereal music from two accomplished artists who have synthesized their talents in a strikingly beautiful way.
The upcoming performance at the Dakota Jazz Club presents a rare opportunity for local music lovers to see the Touré-Raichel magic happen live.
The Vieux Farka Touré and Idan Raichel Quartet performs 7 p.m. Monday, April 16 at the Dakota Jazz Club, 1010 Nicollet Ave., downtown Minneapolis. For tickets, go to: dakotacooks.com or call the box office at 612-332-5299.
(American Jewish World, 3.30.12)