Rokia Traoré does something on her latest album Tchamantché that West African artists don’t do: she grabs a Gretsch guitar to meet Malian beats with lush blues riffs. And its amazing.
Rokia Traoré is to the West African musical patriarchs Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabeté as Bebel Gilberto is to the Afro-funk kings Gilberto Gil and Jorge Ben; she forcefully and sensuously retextures classic sounds by syncopating them with new rhythms and foreign instruments.
She covers Billie Holiday tunes, yet never loses that archetypal West African stringed sound. She sings in Bamana, French and English. And, she is on tour. She should be your next cd, or at least, next youtube watch: