In 2006, 14 years after the historic first meeting of some of the best singers in Senegal and many of the best Latin musicians in New York, the Afro-salsa supergroup made its seventh album. Producer Ibrahima Sylla, recording in Dakar, Abidjan, Bamako, Paris, Miami and (as always) New York, brought extraordinary talents together, combining newcomers, original members and guest stars, and elicited brilliant performances from them all.
Ketukuba stands as a tribute to the late Gnonnas Pedro, Benin's favorite son, who sang with Africando from 1996 until his death in 2004. The title song was his last recording. Medoune Diallo, who earned his reputation with Orchestre Baobob before casting his lot with the nascent Africando in 1992, adds to his distinguished repertoire with a duet with his son, Lodia Mansour, a rising star in Senegal today. Other Africando stalwarts, Amadou Ballaké (Burkina Faso's pre-eminent singer) and Sékouba Bambino (the ''baby'' star of Guinea's Bembeya Jazz National) also contribute standout songs to the new album. American salsero Joe King gives a rousing rendition of the Fania All-Stars classic Nina Nina. And Congolese star Madilu ''System'' Bialu joins Africando for a sparkling Latin-styled version of Mario, the landmark hit he originally recorded with Franco's T.P.O.K. Jazz in 1985. (He died a year after making this record.) The sparking arrangements for Ketukuba are written and conducted by Nelson Hernandez, who is known for his work with Celia Cruz, Oscar D'Leon and many other Latin stars.Ballaké