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The Lobi Traore Group

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Album Review

Guitarist Lobi Traoré plays deep blues from his homeland in Mali, east of that other River of Song — the Niger. He is not as famous as the late Ali Farka Toure, his countryman and grand influence on much of Mali's music (and who actually produced Traoré's 1994 set, Bamako, named for the country's capitol). Traoré was the guitarist on Damon Albarn's Mali Music recording that kicked off the Honest Jons label that this recording is released on. The blurb on this boasts a BBC review that positions Traoré somewhere between Jimmy Page and John Lee Hooker. Forget it. Traoré's guitar playing is utterly electric, gritty, funky, and knotty. His style is raw but extremely sophisticated. Check out the opener, "Jugu," with its killer polyrhythms and Traoré's throaty baritone spitting out the lyrics. His fills cover the breadth and depth of the rhythm section's furious playing. The distortion has nothing to do with sound effects, man — he's playing it at ten! The following cut, "Deni Kelen Be Koko," feels a lot like something that should be on Fat Possum if they did a field recording in Mali. There is so much here that is steaming, tough, and wiry. This is the best blues record of early 2006 and it isn't even a blues record. It's hard Malian folk music gone electric, and full of the most killer singing, dancing, and yes, guitar playing out there.

Customer Reviews

Umm, phenomenal?

This is a fantastic album by a great African artist. I'm surprised I'm the first review of it because there seems to be great interest in "world music" by itunes users. Anyway, get it. It's cool, electric rock. It definitely sits apart from the Fela Kuti Nigerian rock many people know so well.

Well, you can preview it. You don't need me.

PS Please get Mali Blue as well Apple, also by Lobi Traore.


Born: 1961 in Bakaridiana, Mali

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Like his friend and sometimes associate Ali Farka Touré, Lobi Traoré was an excellent guitarist, a warm singer, and a revered player of Mali-flavored blues. Born in 1961 in the Malian village of Bakaridiana, Traoré was the son of two singers. At 16 he traveled to the city of Ségou, where at the age of 19 he discovered Zani Diabate & the Super Djata Band playing Bambara repertoire. It influenced Traoré to start playing his own music in the Bambara language. He started at weddings and then bars,...
Full Bio
The Lobi Traore Group, Lobi Traore
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