Whenever a final album is released after the death of a great performer, it is often reviewed far more kindly than it might have been had the artist still been alive. There is no such problem with Ali Farka Touré's Savane. There may be other recordings of his that have yet to be released (including sessions with the world's finest kora player, Toumani Diabaté, recorded at the time of their memorable concert together at the Barbican last year), but this is the last solo album by the best-known and best-loved guitarist in Africa, and it's simply outstanding.
When the great Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure passed away in March at age 67, he left us with one of his most accomplished recordings. Bridging the physical and spiritual expanse between West African tradition and American blues innovation, Savane paints a vivid picture of Toure's Niafunké as a mysterious locale of desert wonder. Where farming is an act of monumental proportions, Toure cultivates bountiful crops born of the free-roaming soul of the nearby Niger River.