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Music Reviews
11:28 am
Mon April 9, 2012

The Toure-Raichel Collective: A Collaboration By Accident

Originally published on Mon April 9, 2012 4:14 pm

Idan Raichel is one of Israel's top-selling pop musicians. Vieux Farka Toure is a virtuoso guitarist from Mali. The two met by chance in a German airport, and when Toure played a concert in Tel Aviv, Raichel sat in. He enjoyed himself so much that he invited Toure and two other musicians to come to a studio the next day and jam. The music they created is now an album called The Tel Aviv Session.

Sometimes, the best collaborations are accidental. If Raichel and Toure had planned a collaboration, it's hard to imagine that they could have topped the casual charm of this impromptu encounter.

For this session, Raichel leaves aside his banks of keyboards and his large backing band, and mostly just plays piano, sometimes plucking its strings to create percussive, muted vamps and riffs. Toure, a rocking electric guitarist, sticks to his acoustic and shines. There's a spare rhythm section, and some guests make appearances, but the soul of this session is two nimble musicians, unfettered and comfortably at play.

Toure tends to set the stage here, mostly with music reminiscent of Malian folklore, while Raichel plays the foil, sometimes smoothing out Toure's rugged grooves and sometimes echoing the guitarist's distinctive filigree phrasing.

The Toure-Raichel Collective is now becoming a touring ensemble, aiming to preserve and even enhance the spontaneous magic of Raichel and Toure's initial encounter. The fact that the group features two Jewish Israelis and two Muslim Africans is interesting, but not really the point. These players delve into the swirling waters of our globalized music culture and pull out bright fish, almost perfect, as if designed instead of conjured in the heat of improvisation.



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Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Idan Raichel is one of Israel's top selling pop musicians. Vieux Farka Toure is a virtuoso guitarist from Mali. They met by chance in a German airport. And when Toure played Tel Aviv, Raichel sat in. Raichel enjoyed himself so much that he invited Toure to a studio the next day to jam. The resulting CD is called "The Tel Aviv Session." Banning Eyre has a review.

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BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: Sometimes, the best collaborations are accidental. If Idan Raichel and Vieux Farka Toure had planned a collaborative CD, it's hard to imagine they could ever have topped the casual charm of this impromptu encounter.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EYRE: For this session, Raichel leaves aside his banks of keyboards and his large backing band and mostly just plays piano, sometimes plucking at strings to create percussive muted vamps and riffs.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EYRE: And Toure, a rocking electric guitarist, sticks to acoustic here and shines.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EYRE: There's a spare rhythm section and some guest appearances, but the soul of this session is two nimble musicians unfettered and comfortably at play.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EYRE: Toure tends to set the stage here, mostly with music reminiscent of Malian folklore. Raichel plays the foil, sometimes smoothing out Toure's rugged grooves and sometimes echoing the guitarist's filigree phrasing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EYRE: The Toure-Raichel Collective is now becoming a touring ensemble aiming to preserve and even enhance the spontaneous magic of their initial encounter. The fact that the group features two Jewish Israelis and two Muslim Africans is interesting, but not really the point. These players delve into the swirling waters of our globalized music culture and pull out bright fish, almost perfect, as if designed instead of conjured in the heat of improvisation.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CORNISH: Banning Eyre is senior editor at AfroPop.org. He reviewed "The Tel Aviv Session" by the Toure-Raichel Collective.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.