Boubacar Traoré is the last Malian bluesman of his generation. Since the death of Ali Farka Touré, he has been the musical genre’s only West African icon. In the course of an unsettled life, he became the first star of independence at the start of the 1960s and then vanished from the music scene before returning to the limelight decades later. It was at around seventy that the guitarist returned to the public eye in the company of Vincent Bucher, one of the finest contemporary harmonica players and Traoré’s alter ego. Bucher brought a new freedom and international culture to Traoré’s music, accompanied by Alassane Samaké’s wonderfully subtle calabash.
On his new album, Dounia Tabolo (out November 17, 2017 on Lusafrica Records), Boubacar Traoré decided to continue with this internationalization, bringing in musicians from the Southern States of the USA he had met on tour: Louisiana Creole flagbearer Cedric Watson on violin and washboard, and deeply innovative blues master Corey Harris on guitar, and Haitian-American roots musician Leyla McCalla on the cello. Boubacar’s intention was to change the coloration of his songs (standards and new numbers) while conserving their original character. More than ever, Boubacar Traoré has shown himself to be the living, vital connection between Africa and the American South.