2004 from Real World
Daby Tourés story goes back two generations and has a fairy tale beginning.
Once upon a time, in a village near Kayes (in what is now modern Mali), there lived four brothers, who plied their familys traditional trade as shoemakers and leatherworkers, fashioning the skins of crocodiles from a nearby river into shoes, bags and wallets. But perhaps due to drought or excessive hunting, the crocodile population began to dwindle dramatically, until the family could no longer sustain a living from their craft. The brothers decided to disperse to the four winds - and they never saw each other again.
One of them, Daby Touré, went to live near Zinguinchor in Casamance, the southernmost province of Senegal, where he married four wives and produced a large brood of children. For reasons that no one has ever been able to explain, this new Touré generation was touched by a deep love and gift for music. A younger member of the clan, Hamidou Touré, was brought up by an uncle up north in Mauritania. After graduating as a doctor in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott, he was sent to a sand-blown desert town called Boutilimit, where he married a beautiful woman who was half Moorish or Hassaniya and half Toucouleur. They gave birth to a son who they called Daby, in honor of his grandfather, the family patriarch.
Mauritania is situated on the fault line between Moorish North Africa and sub-Saharan black Africa. As you travel south from its northern border with Morocco, the unrelenting lifelessness of the deep desert changes into dry, bushy, coastal scrubland of the southern grasslands and forests. A big river, the Senegal, marks the southern boundary of this modern nation state. Although the lighter-skinned Moors have always held political and social power in the country, more than half the population belong to black ethnic groups; Toucouleur, Fulbe, Soninké and Wolof. The country always lived comfortably with this ethnic and cultural diversity until the late 1980s, when bitter inter-ethnic conflict disturbed this harmony.
Daby grew up in Boutilimit, Nouakchott, and Casmance before going to live with an uncle in the village of Djéole, near Kaédi, on the banks of the Senegal. His parents had divorced, and Dabys father couldnt be seen to be raising young children on his own. In Djéole, Daby soaked up the language, culture and music of his Soninké people, as well as those of the neighbouring Toucouleur and Wolof. He learned all about farming and cattle rearing. It was a secure village childhood. "With hindsight, I think the times I spent in the village were the most important in my life, because thats where I was forged," Daby remembers. In the warmth of the night, he would join friends to bang out rhythms on old tins, canisters and cardboard boxes and entertain the village. When diversion was required at henna and wedding feasts, Daby and his mates would often be sent for.
Later, Daby moved back to the capital Nouakchott to live with his father. After a tiring day at the hospital, Hamidou would often relax by playing music with his friends. Daby wasnt allowed to touch the guitars, because his father did not want him to develop any crazy ideas about becoming a musician. But he stole time on the instruments anyway and taught himself the basics. He also began discovering the exotic joys of western pop music, thanks to radio, pirated cassettes and the occasional TV broadcast. The Police, Dire Straights, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson were powerful formative influences. Although a deep fascination and hunger for music was evident in the teenager, Dabys father continued to insist that music was not a career option for any well-brought-up young man. "In Mauritania, the profession of musician doesnt really exist," explains Daby. "A profession is something you train for and get a diploma. My father was more fearful for me than anything else, because he knew what a musicians life consisted of and for him it wasnt a future."
In 1989, political unrest and ethnic conflict was making life in Mauritania very difficult, so when Hamidou was invited by his younger brothers Sixu and Ismael to join their musical group Touré Kunda, he at first he hesitated, but the offer seemed too good to refuse. He sold his house to pay for his son to come along with him. The rich musical life of Paris was a magical revelation to the 18-year-old Daby, and although his father continued to brow-beat him about his studies, music slowly became his whole life. He began to play little gigs in bars and college parties with rock and cover bands. After finally leaving his course at Business School, despite his fathers objections, he went to live in an African hostel in Paris and teamed up with his cousin Omar to form Touré Touré. They began to explore the vivid common frontiers of jazz and African music.
A meeting with Jean-Pierre Como, the keyboard player with established avant-jazz-fusionists Sixún, kick-started a chain-reaction which lead to a record deal with French independent label Pygmalion Records and the release of Touré Tourés album LADDÉ. The Sixún connection opened doors to the bubbling Parisian jazz scene, with its open-mindedness and vitality, and Daby fell in love with bands like Weather Report, Joe Zawinul and Pat Metheny. It was their originality and artistry that fascinated him above all else. Despite the fact that LADDÉ was very well received in France and Touré Touré played hundreds of concerts nationwide - as well as further a-field in Canada and Brazil - Daby felt dissatisfied with the bands progress. It seemed that the industry, the media and their audiences were only interested in the roots, African and dance band aspects of the group.
"The music that I play is based on exploration, on original compositions. Its like a painter who gets up to paint a painting. I get up in the morning, I pick up my guitar and I start working. I dont know where Im going but I go."
Daby locked himself away in his own home-studio and began to write and arrange songs. He controlled every aspect of the creative process, from composition to arrangements, to performance and mixing. That was important; Daby was in pursuit of a very individual musical vision, and he needed the time, space and solitude to make it a reality. After several years hard work, Daby teamed up with electronic musician and digital wizard Cyrille Dufay to develop the sound further. The result of all this experimentation, exploration and hard graft is DIAM.
The songs on the album tell of Dabys life, of the people around him and of the world in general. He sings of relationships,freedom, his family, and, above all, of being positive when times are hard. It is perfectly fitting then that the title, DIAM, means "peace" - something that Daby has sought throughout his life. It is because Daby is sure of where he comes from that he can move forward without fear.
... The torch then passed to the younger generation, in the form of emerging Mauritanian star Daby Toure, whose father played in the 1980s Senegal-based outfit Toure Kunda. Toure, who lives in Paris, performed in a more accessible, international style, with blunter rhythms and a powerful bass, and more than a few hints of reggae. During an impressive set he ignited the crowd, returning drenched in sweat for a triumphant encore.... more >>