Ronnie Scott’s 10th -11th July 2012 / £24 – £45 / Doors 6pm / www.ronniescotts.co.uk / 020 7439 0747
Only his voice can blend Niger and Mississippi river alluvia with such moving authenticity. His unique, inimitable, self-taught guitar technique owes a great deal to his kora influences, but its shades and phrasing also suggest the great black bluesmen of the deep American South: Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and others.
Back in the 60s when the euphoria of African independence reigned, the 20-year-old Boubacar Traoré was Mali’s Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. He was the first to play Mandingo-based music on electric guitar, long before his junior, Ali Farka Touré. His hits including “Mali Twist” and “Kayeba” provided dance music for a generation who were enjoying freedom for the first time. But then on the 19th November 1968, Modibo Keita’s socialist government was overthrown by a military coup and Traore and his songs were exiled from the airwaves. He was rediscovered in 1987, but propelled by the death of his wife and muse, despairing and distraught, he gave up music and decided to look for work in Paris, where he joined the community of Malian migrant workers and shared their harsh life. In Paris, an English producer discovered him and took him to the studio to record his first album, “Mariama”, in 1990. Poignant, spare and melancholic, Traore’s music had changed since his youth in the 60s. Now it was more refined, the art of a mature man expressing his heartaches and joys in song, his unique vocal timbre shrouded in nostalgia and poetry.
His latest album Mali Denhou Is out now on Lusafrica and he is joined for these rare club dates by percussionist Losseni Kone and fabulous, harmonica player Vincent Bucher, whose playing is influenced by Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson.
Guitarist, harmonica player and singer Muntu Valdo opens the show. His music is rooted in the blues, mixing African traditions with striking modernity and technical mastery. Juxtaposing his raw, passionate voice and intensely emotive melodies with an ingenious use of loops, samples and effects.