As part of The Egg‘s Rhythm International concert series, musicians from around the world take the stage in the Swyer Theater and shower the audience in the sounds of corners of the world unheard by many. The most recent installment of this series brought The Touré-Raichel Collective, featuring Malian guitarist Vieuz Farka Touré and Israeli jazz pianist Idan Raichel along with Malian drummer Souleymane Kane and Israeli bassist Yogev Glusman, and between them collaborated across cultures and centuries of musical history to create a fusion of traditional musics.
The song names were presented in their original language, the songs themselves unique and offering a different influence, perhaps more Malian than Israeli, more traditional than classical, or combining Afrobeat with Mid-Eastern influences. One composition was at times pleading and reaching, then growing and fading slowly, a journey through the instruments, a blend of classical piano with light guitar, smooth bass and the beating of a calabash by Kane; he makes it look so easy with such a great beat in every facet of the instrument. Raichel, like Chick Corea, plays the inside of the piano, adding to the collective sound.
Raichel spoke in between a few songs, at length, bringing up the topic of ‘music that changed the world’, such as The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Considering that this music has been around for only 50 years at the most, and classical music that has lasted hundreds of years, above all, traditional music, the DNA of nations is the music from cultures that will last forever. Music from Mali has roots dating back thousands of years, and while the music of Israel is far younger, Jewish heritage stretches millenia. Weighing this, Raichel argued that some songs will last forever. Perhaps, some 700 years in the future, in a church in Costa Rica, people will sing ‘Let it Be’, yet have forgotten who John Lennon was. With that, Raichel introduced “Thank the Lord for his Grace”, adding that he hopes it has the potential to be a song played 700 years from now in a synogouge in Costa Rica.
A song full of Malian funk stood out, adding a flamenco/salsa vibe that went on for over 10 minutes. A few songs elicited applause from the start, a pleasent surprise to see fans of musicians who are far from home. Before the finale and encore, Raichel mentioned that world music artists have the honor of playing the soundtrack of where they are from. An encore, seen below, was described as ‘the soundtrack of Mali’, and with its beautiful rhythm it led the audience out into a warm and windy night on the Empire State Plaza.
Photos by Andrzej “Andre” Pilarczyk