The story of Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure is an odd combination of contradiction and connection. Descended from noble ancestors, Toure’s early interest in music was actively discouraged by his family. A devout Muslim, he chose to study and play the “music of the spirits,” passed down through folklore, myth and ritual. Other than the decade he spent working for Radio Mali in Bamako, he’s firmly ensconced himself in his childhood home of Niafunké in northwestern Mali, where he was elected mayor in 2004. And although he’s Sonrai, he is fluent in several other Malian languages, each associated with a distinct group of people and musical traditions. He sings and plays in those languages as well, communicating common concerns, joys, and experiences with characteristic lean warmth.