Made in Dakar
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Made in Dakar Import Orchestra Baobab The legendary Senegalese band's first album in six years, consisting in part of re-recordings of the group's earlier songs, continues it's impressive record of seamlessly fusing the traditional and the modern. Each song here- with vocals performed in Wolof, Portuguese Creole, French, and Malinke- is equally rich in history, testament to one of the few positive outcomes of European occupation as they deftly incorporate soul and salsa, rumba and jazz, reggae and country, an exercise in cross-pollination made all the more impressive by the near invisibility of the threads connecting it all. That's ultimately what makes Orchestra Baobab such a joy: It's dance music, pure and simple, made for others to have a good time, easily appreciated on the basis of it's musicianship alone (Attisso is particularly inspired throughout) but becoming more impressive the deeper you dig into what's actually being done.
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On this CD, which has great liner notes, they have broadened their sound by adding to the Cuban percussion some West African drums. For me, a latin music fan, the result of a very exotic sound with echoes of Cuban music styles such as Guajira and Son. There are plenty of guitar solos here with a lot of changes in the rhythm, so the album never feels repetitive. They look for inspiration equally in Senegal's musical heritage as well as calypso music, salsa, and even Carlos Santana.
and falsetto passages. These elements are so present in the motown and pop music of the 60s. i keep thinking of the original Frankie Lymon recording of Why Do Fools Fall in Love, where he breaks into that angelic falsetto over the booming, chanting anchor of the bassline, which is SO classically African.
These are rico suave , smooth , jazzy nightclub sounds from the ends of the earth -- the last bit of land of west Africa, ie Senegal, Cabo Verde and out into the vast Atlantic. Chilling in a historical context.
The other reservation I have is that the album is overproduced. In particular, there is way too much reverb on the saxophones. Issa Cissokho's sax playing style makes a lot of use of staccato notes, and I really think the audio engineer made a bad aesthetic call by using that much reverb.
But other than for these two flaws, I really love this album. Not as much as their classic 70s-early 80s material, but not too far behind. I find this album much better than Specialist in All Styles, however, which I felt was spotty and uninspired.
In my mind, even though it's the same people, the old Baobab's music was a bit slower, tenser and more dramatic, while the new Baobab are faster and more energetic. The rest of the album's material suits their present playing style a lot better than the two tracks I singled out.