The Tel Aviv Session (Cumbancha, 2012)
The rising star of world music, Vieux Farka Touré collaborates with Israeli pop star Idan Raichel in this collection of music sessions titled The Tel Aviv Session. Vieux, a guitar maestro and son of the late Alia Farka Toure, first met Idan Raichel at an airport in Germany in 2008 while both were on tour. They made friends and eventually got together for a recording session in November 2010 in a small Tel Aviv studio. The two musicians were joined by Israeli bassist Yossi Fine and Malian calabash player Souleymane Kane.
The unrehearsed sessions were a series of improvised pieces, with Vieux’s masterful Malian blues leading the way, joined by Idan Raichel’s piano. This lineup became The Touré-Raichel Collective. The pieces were recorded and became the groundwork of the album The Tel Aviv Session.
Idan Raichel is a pop star in Israel with a genuine interest in world music. His band The Idan Raichel Project blends African, Middle Eastern, Eastern European and other influences into an ear friendly global pop format. For many years, Idan was a fan of Vieux’s father, the legendary Ali Farka Touré. “I listened to Ali Farka Touré for years,” says Idan, “I even used his sound as the muse for one of the songs on my first album.”
When Idan met Vieux, he was enthusiastic. “I have a dream,” Idan said to Vieux, “I will leave my band and come join yours as a keyboard player. I don’t care if I get paid or anything, I just want to follow you around and see how you do it.” Idan proved that he was truly interested when flew to Cartagena, Spain to join Vieux in concert.
“Going back to being a side musician and taking that opportunity to learn from Vieux was a magical experience for me,” Idan remembers. “It was like the owner of a restaurant who goes back to waiting tables just for the experience!”
“When I first met Idan he looked like a crazy hippie to me,” Vieux recalls. “But he carried himself with a lot of confidence. He was cool and relaxed. I knew there must be something powerful about this guy. Then the minute we first played together, I knew that I was right. He has deep talent and a deep soul.”
“This album represents a new step for me,” points out Vieux, “It’s the first time I have done a full album collaboration and it’s the first time I have really exhibited my acoustic playing on an album. So, for me, it demonstrates a maturing of my music and my career.”
“The way that I play piano during the session comes from the kora,” points out Idan. “Sometimes I’m using the strings of the piano, plucking them with my fingers like a harp, other times I’m beating the piano as if it were a drum. I use the piano as a whole instrument.”
After the sessions, Idan edited the tracks and invited additional musicians to contribute additional flavor. “There were some people that we wish had been there that day, so we decided to ask them to record some additional parts.” Guests include Cabra Casey, an Israeli of Ethiopian heritage who is a member of the Idan Raichel Project, who wrote lyrics in the Ethiopian language Tigrit and sang on the song “Ane Nahatka”. Another member of the Idan Raichel Project, Yankele Segal, played the long-necked Persian tar on “Kfar”. Mark Eliyahu, who immigrated to Israel from the Russian republic of Dagestan, added the kamanche (a fiddle found in Azerbaijan and Iran) to “Alem”. French harmonica virtuoso Frédéric Yonnet added a harmonica part to the bluesy piece “Touré”. Vieux recorded vocals for the song “Alkataou” and was joined by his friend the bass player Patrick Ruffino.
“Vieux and I share the same DNA,” says Idan, “We are both deeply linked to the places where we come from, our family and spiritual roots. These are the things that really matter.”
“Music has no borders,” declares Vieux, “What’s important is the spirit between people – their backgrounds are not a factor at all if there is a shared respect and a musical connection. From the first time I played with Idan, we shared this musical understanding. So to me it doesn’t make a difference if he is from Israel, Japan, or Mars, we will speak the same language when it comes to music.”
The Tel Aviv Session pulls you in with its exciting mix of Malian blues and global sounds.