After spending most of the '60s reinventing and revitalizing Senegalese music with his group Le Star Band de Dakar, Amara Touré set his sights on the entirety of Africa, becoming one of the continent's most revered musicians by 1980. After completely disappearing by the '90s, the Analog Africa label collects some of Touré's last recordings, releasing it as 1973-1980. The collection's first six tracks are straight remasters of singles released between 1973 and 1976, capturing Touré's heavy Cuban influence, as he mimics the waltz-like rhythms of Son Cubano and merengue music, while adding African call-and-response vocals and raw, kinetic brass.
Latin music’s African roots are well documented: its rhythms survived through successive generations of slaves and served as the beating heart of a plethora of styles created across the Americas. This retrospective of Afro-Cuban musician Amara Touré tells the story of how those influences came full circle. First brought to West Africa by Cuban sailors in the early 40s, son montuno and pachanga styles were swiftly adopted by Senegalese musicians who reinvented the formats, adding fresh layers to the already dense amalgam of Caribbean and African influences.
Sometimes when a musician bridges two styles, they do so to show off. When African singer/percussionist Amara Touré started tackling Cuban music, he didn’t see it this way: “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.” Similarities in music is one thing, but Touré saw a direct reflection of his very culture in Cuban music.
Analog Africa has lovingly put together a compilation of Amara Touré’s musical output when he was with the Black and White ensemble as well as his later output with Orchestra Massako. His mix of African and Cuban compositions, are a pure joy to listen to. The groovy fluidity of the music on a track such as “Lamento Cubano” has such a depth and soulful vibe that I found it hard to sit still while listening to it.