“Latin music, is it really foreign to us Africans? I don’t think so. Listen to the drums, to the rhythm. It all seems very close to us–it feels like it’s our own culture.” –Amara Touré
In his recent review of Havana Dakar Paris by Aluna Wade and Harold López-Nussa, Afropop senior producer Banning Eyre noted the love affair the Senegalese have with Cuban music. Amare Touré is yet one more example of this cultural cross pollination.
While Touré is from Guinea, he got his start as a member of Le Star Band de Dakar in Dakar, Senegal. Le Star Band de Dakar was one of the premier bands in Senegal playing Afro-Cuban music at the time. In 1958, Touré was invited to join the band by music producer and nightclub owner Ibra Kasse. He played with Le Star Band for the next decade.
After his stint in Dakar, Touré went to Cameroon in 1973, where he formed his own group called Black and White, performing live at clubs. He then moved on to Libreville, Gabon to play with Orchestre Massako in 1980. This reissue compiles 10 songs from his time in Cameroon and Gabon.
The first six tracks are with the Black and White band, while the last four are with Orchestre Massako and they are all spectacular. One of the highlights is Touré’s take on the classic “Lamento Cubano” and it is breathtaking. Sublime, yet powerful, his voluminous, bombastic voice leaps out at the listener while the rhythm section remains deep in the groove and the horn section sizzles. This is characteristic of the entire reissue: superlative instrumentation combined with Touré’s powerful vocals.
Analog Africa hit the ball out of the park with this release. Highly recommended.