Blues legends like John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and J.B. Lenoire are often cited as the closest thing to Ali Farka Toure, but at the core of the Malian guitarist’s music is a sumptuous beauty that is beyond comparison. Last year’s stunning Talking Timbuktu (Hannibal/World Circuit) paired Toure with producer Ry Cooder and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and uncompromisingly mixed American blues with Toure’s music, illuminating an often discussed but rarely palpable common ground. Accompanied usually by only spare percussion (as he’ll be for this rare date) Toure casts deep trance-out spells, and his looping guitar patterns spin hypnotic, subtly shifting webs of sound that are punctuated by soulful, Islamic-inflected vocals–he’s a descendant of the Armas, a Moorish army from Spain who migrated to Mali in the 16th century. Both his guitar playing and vocals take off on effective, logical flights from the music’s rhythmic swirl, radiating a gorgeous, almost preternatural spiritual eloquence. Thursday, August 3, 9 PM, Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison; 327-1662.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/John Mided.