MUSIC REVIEW: Daby Touré embraced by diversity

AS OUR modern globe has shrunk, so our musical awareness and readiness has widened. You could even say exploded.

And as we age with the music we grew up with, have assimilated since, and embrace new from foreign shores, so audiences for world music reflect this expanding diversity.

Brighton's Pavilion Theatre, emptied of its seating, threw open the floor for around 300 folk of all generations and background diversity to groove, clap and echo-sing around the hypnotic presence of one of the latest finds of world music.

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Tour was a cosmopolitan artiste visiting a cosmopolitan city. The Mauritanian-born singer and electro-acoustic guitarist was immersed in the music of the Saharan desert peoples and nations before his transplantation to Paris.

His family were from Mali and Senegal, then his musician-doctor father, after divorce, sold his house amid the disturbed development of 1980s Mauritanian politics, to join a family band. And he moved with it, and Daby, to Paris.

The 18-year-old, originally banned back home by his father from playing guitar, was released into a working environment of performance, although his studies were still imposed upon him as paramount.

Thence he came into British consciousness from the artistic milieu of multi-racial France '” a vibrant Parisian and European sophistication of threads and sounds from across the Mediterranean and Moorish North Africa.

And now London, on our island, has of course begun more readily and comprehensively and widely to absorb its own multi ethnic cultural influx into its creative musical output. Pop music, jazz and roots are the uniting, binding forces on both sides of the Channel.

Daby Tour was given his passport towards British awareness by one of our own Peter Gabriel, from Charterhouse School and Genesis. He was one of the first British solo artistes to follow the lead of Paul Simon and integrate African rhythm in his own power toolbox.

Gabriel has already has conquered most nations of the world as well as being with Richard Branson among the founders of the 2007 celebrity global village peace-moving group, The Elders, (which includes Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan). And in 1992, Gabriel formed the human-rights'“though video group, Witness.

He heard Tour's debut album, Diam ("Peace"), signed up Tour to open his 2004 tour and that thrust the tall, slim, dreadlocked Mauritanian before thronging thousands. Now Tour has a new album out, Stereo Spirit, on Gabriel's own Real World Records label, and is playing Holland and Belgium in April.

His exposure to British rock bands and American jazz-rock fusion, plus his multi-ethnic upbringing and language and his now Parisian melting-pot home, have produced songwriting with a host of international ingredients '” and a latest album where he plays all the instruments.

His subjects spring from all the normal sensitivities and awarenesses of a young artiste for the natural and human world around him, and his hopes for its betterment and his own improvement as a person.

And it is not only followers of Gabriel's classy rock and pop who will have been made aware and drawn to Tour. He has been heard on BBC Radio 3's own programmes of world music and so there came to the feast a proportion of the audience from this cultural listening background.

On stage, Tour has a white French drummer, Julien Chalet, and a Senegalese bassist Samba N'Diaya. Chalet had only three drums but Tour's own finger and hand slapping on the upper side of his guitar increased the percussive complexity.

And there was the use of digital percussive sampling by Chalet and guitar sound loops by Tour to increase the density and intensity of the textures.

N'Diaya's pervasive bass work, potently simple, was enhanced by an Ampeg rig that gave him a sound deep inside the rocks under the desert sands.

Chalet was replacing late-on Tour's original drummer who had broken his foot and Tour's two-hour set was extended to compensate for the unexpected absence of Skip McDonald.

The two have cut a shortened, six-track album, Call My Name (also on Real World), they had intended to promote. But McDonald had suddenly to leave his London home a week earlier for an urgent return to the USA.

The globalisation of music means gigs like this are a thrill and a new viability. How many Britons 10 years ago would have tolerated, let alone devoured, two hours of music in a language they did not understand?

Tour, gracefully energetic and joyous, Chalet, skilful and attentive, and the ever-smiling N'Diaya, spread sunshine out into the night across the faces and of their invigorated departing audience.

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