Touré Kunda

  • TourÉ Kunda
  • Touré Kunda (Fr. Celluloid) 1981  (Celluloid) 1987 
  • Ém'ma Africa (Les Frères Griots) (Fr. Celluloid) 1982  (Celluloid) 1987 
  • Amadou-Tilo (Celluloid) 1984 
  • Casamance au Clair de Lune (Celluloid) 1984 
  • Live Paris — Ziguinchor (Celluloid) 1984 
  • Natalia (Celluloid) 1985 
  • 81/82 (Celluloid) 1986 
  • 83/84 (Celluloid) 1986 
  • Karadindi (Celluloid) 1988 

The international appeal of Senegal’s Touré brothers — Ismaila, Sixu Tidiane and Ousmane — must be attributed in large part to their soothingly mellifluous voices, tones that wash over the listener like warm milk. Of course, their sultry and tasteful integration of Afro-urban and Western dance music have something to do with it too. Like traditional griot songs (they themselves belong to the artisan class), many of their lyrics consist of simple reflections on nature and family life. But after first performing on such traditional instruments as balafon and kora, they gradually integrated electric guitars and keyboards into their arrangements.

Their first album, Touré Kunda, contains beautiful melodies over reggae and Arabic rhythms, along with unobtrusive hints of rock music. ém’ma Africa, featuring the music of Sixu and Ismaila, has a notable Jamaican influence.

Amadou-Tilo memorializes Amadou Touré, who died (reportedly from exhaustion) in 1983. The group next recorded an acoustic album of traditional songs, Casamance au Clair de Lune, before going high-tech (with Fairlight synthesizers!) under the sway of producer Bill Laswell and his studio regulars (including former Parliament keyboardist Bernie Worrell, guitarist Nicky Skopelitis and drummer Aïyb Dieng) on Natalia. The live album, recorded at various dates in Western Africa around the end of 1983, includes sparkling performances of songs from Amadou-Tilo, as well as earlier albums. The Tourés are backed by a female singer and six musicians, playing keyboards, sax, flute, guitar, bass and drums. 81/82 and 83/84 are compilations.

[Richard Gehr / Ira Robbins]