Amara Touré – an Enigmatic Exemplar of Afro-Cuban Music
Guinea’s Amara Touré’s passionate wails prompt questions about how such sensual music could sink without a trace until now.
1973-1980 by Amare Touré (Analog Africa)
‘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,” Guinean singer and percussionist Amara Touré once said.
Few sounds capture tropical, heat-induced laziness better than a full Latin orchestra in a reverie. Unpick those sounds, and each orchestra member is essential to a groove that lasts as long as it takes for ice to melt in a rum cocktail: horns are sultry, drums are earthy, guitars ebb and swell in slow rhythms and the bass is thumped out in a simple yet weirdly penetrating assault.
Forget sweating it out in an Afrobeat gig. When the music is this well acclimatised, you either crash sprawled in a chair or, if you and your partner can muster the energy, plug directly into the rhythm by swaying to a slow dance.
So in a place as humid and sweat-drenched as a Dakar nightclub, it’s no wonder how popular the Cuban ensembles who toured Senegal in the 1940s and 1950s became. They arrived with Cuban sailors and merchant traders who exported goods from the West African coast, from Senegal to Liberia.