Magazine article Guitar Player

Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure

Magazine article Guitar Player

Abdoulaye Alhassane Toure

Article excerpt

ABDOULAYE ALHASSANE TOURE HAS BROUGHT string-picking wizardry from the desert towns of West Africa to the nightclubs of New York City. Born in 1963, in Niamey, Niger, to a Sonrai family from Gao, Mali, he passed his youth in a multi-ethnic neighborhood surrounded by Peul, Bambara, Sonrai, and other peoples, and as he put it, "They all played music." Local radio filled his ears with the sinuous, bluesy strains of desert folklore and the melodious bombast of Mande griots. When his parents returned to Mali, Toure recalled, "They came back with cassettes by Ibrahim Hamma Dicko, Fissa Maiga, and Ali Farka Toure, who sang in a language we understood, and I was incredibly inspired by the originality of this music." Toure's musical gift became obvious when he started hanging out in the Niamey nightclub where his uncle, Johnny Ali Maiga, led a band.

"Johnny Ali Maiga played folklore, like Ali Farka Toure," said Toure, "But he also loved rock. His group was on the radio in Niamey, and it sounded like the Malian music I was listening to at home, but sung in Zerma, the national language of Niger."

By the early '80s, Toure was playing guitar and flute, and his first band incorporated electric guitar, bass, drums, and brass, and merged regional folk styles with international pop. When the group took first prize in a national competition, Toure became a full-time musician. By the late '80s, he was leading Super Kassey--the first Niamey band to travel abroad and record in a modern studio. …

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