The Tel Aviv Session

Music Review

20 Mar 2014
The Touré-Raichel Collective
The Tel Aviv Session
Cumbancha
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It is very hard to see how it came to be that Idan Raichel, a big domestic Israeli star who plays very ordinary pop music, and the son of Ali Farka Touré ‘ear-stormed’ their way into such an inspiring musical creation. One that nods to sub Saharan, Ethiopian, Yemenite and Israeli folk music. Be that as it may the result is a relaxed rhythmic set of beautifully crafted and musically infectious tunes.

The Touré-Raichel Collective consists of Vieux Farka Touré (guitar), Idan Raichel (piano), Yossi Fine (bass) and Souleymane Kane (calabash), there are other musicians playing Arabic violin and the Tar (an Iranian guitar), adding a ‘world’ vibe to the Afro-Middle eastern sound. The album is made ip of 11 mostly instrumental gems which take you on an interesting musical journey full of tunes and harmonies that manage to fuse the roots of many styles in to melodious, gentle and rhythmic mix. Unsurprsingly it’s reminiscent in places to the music of Touré's famous father.

Initial impressions may lead one to assume that the sound is sub Saharan, but the mix introduces a piano that veers from classical to western pop, supported by bass and the occasional harmonica that create delta-blues like atmospherics. The last track takes yet another sudden turn towards Iran and central Asia. No single musician dominates, it is a collaborative collective in the truest sense, as the name of the group suggests.  The music is played in a fashion that highlights the capabilities of all who take part; Touré's guitar is prominent but not necessarily as a lead instrument, he and Yossi Fine take their turns in keeping the rhythm in check. The percussion quietly and rapidly adds musical commas and exclamation marks along the way. As to the piano, those few who may have heard Raichel's music in the past (or decide to discover him after hearing tracks from this album) are in for a very pleasant surprise, his piano playing is revelatory and transformed in a supremely positive way when compared to the gentle pop songs which made him the darling of many a teenagers in Israel.

The album's overall sound signature is intimate and open, you can sense the room that the almost purely acoustic instruments were recorded in. The Bass and highs are finely balanced creating a very convincing three dimensional presence with a wide and deep soundstage. This is a single-sitting affair, the tracks are as short as they are intoxicating to listen to. Very highly recommended as an antidote to the oft broadcast news of scandals and mayhem from the regions that those who were involved in the making of the album came from!

Favorite tracks - Experience followed closely by Hawa, Le Niger and Ane Nahtka. 

Reuben Klein