The Tel Aviv Session - The Toure-Raichel Collective

Cumbancha

Be-dreaded Israeli composer, Idan Raichel is friendly enough but reserved; patient and professional. Good qualities in a music producer, though image-wise he may appear a bit brooding and his music is seriously introspective. Of course this is all personal conjecture from afar, but it fed my preconceptions prior to listening to the Toure-Raichel Collective release on Cumbancha Records. I was trying to imagine Vieux Farka Toure's nimble approach to Malian blues in terms of some kind of global music suite and I couldn't hear it going well. Add to that the fact that this was recorded live off the studio floor, a high-water mark for musicianship but sadly, often code for lack luster production. And, I wasn’t the only one with mixed first impressions. Vieux Farka Toure confides in the liner notes, “When I first met Idan he looked like a crazy hippie to me. But he carried himself with a lot of confidence. He was cool and relaxed. I knew there must be something powerful about this guy.” Idan ingratiated himself on his guest for The Tel Aviv Session by saying, “I have a dream(good start). I will leave my band and come join yours as a keyboard player. I don’t care if I get paid or anything. I just want to follow you around and see how you do it.” With that kind of mutual respect, the end result couldn’t have turned out sweeter. With additional voices of calabash, harmonica and vocals from one of Idan’s Ethiopian ringers, The Tel Aviv Sessions proves to be light and groovy in feel. There’s nothing any more serious here than musicians at play and that’s totally refreshing. There are no rambling solo exchanges or opuses. Everything is kept pretty much to 5 minutes more or less. On the other hand, there are some exemplary embellishments to the Toure-Raichel Collective quartet of Idan Raichel on keys, Vieux Farka Toure on Guitars, Yossi Fine on bass and the soulful calabash beat of Souleymane Kane. Cabra Casay, an Ethiopian/Israeli singer delivers a powerful melody on Ane Nahatka and Frederic Yonnet slam dunks the harmonica blues for the standout, Toure. The Tel Aviv Session achieves what all good music is supposed to: evaporating preconceptions and enlightening possibilities.