This 12 months, Senegal’s Orchestra Baobab have fun their 50th Anniversary. That’s a serious milestone for any band however their story is much more fascinating. The rise of a home band to develop into Senegal’s main group up till the late 70s; a fall from fame led by the rise in reputation of Youssou N’Dour; a outstanding return marked by a legendary live performance at London’s Barbican and a comeback album co-produced none apart from…Youssou N’Dour.
To have fun this outstanding milestone, the band has introduced the difficulty of their landmark 2002 reunion album ‘Specialist In All Kinds‘ for the primary time ever on vinyl, on September 25th. Alongside this comes a beforehand unseen video from the archive – a efficiency of ‘Jiin Ma Jiin Ma’ from their 2015 present at Jazz à Vienne Competition in France.
World Circuit: ‘Specialist’ was the primary album by the total group since 1982’s legendary ‘Pirates Selection’, a holy grail for African music followers. Recorded at London’s Livingston Studios in simply ten days and produced by World Circuit’s Nick Gold with Youssou N’Dour, ‘Specialist In All Kinds’ is a definitive illustration of Baobab’s Afro-Latin magic, introducing new materials and reinventing a few of the outdated tunes that made them well-known.
The file options Baobab’s elegant rhythm part and two of probably the most distinctive sounds in African music – Barthélemy Attisso’s extraordinary guitar and Issa Cissokho’s atmospheric sax. The band’s 5 distinctive lead singers, every with their very own contrasting however complementary kinds, are joined on the music ‘Hommage à Tonton Ferrer’ by particular company Buena Vista Social Membership star Ibrahim Ferrer and Youssou N’Dour.
The band owes their begin to the entrepreneurial drive that was Ibra Kassé, membership proprietor, impresario and founding father of the Star Band, whose residency at Dakar’s Membership Miami within the late 60s made it a notoriously full of life joint. Right here, Kassé’s band lit up the evening with a music flavoured by rhythms from world wide, all flowing into Dakar – one of many nice ports of west Africa – from America, Europe, and Cuba, in addition to Senegal’s West African neighbours Ghana, Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast. This eclectic mixture of rhythms and kinds would all later feed into Baobab’s DNA.
By the beginning of 1970, on the peak of the Star Band’s fame, a brand new modern venue, Membership Baobab, opened its doorways in Dakar’s European district. Nicely often known as a hangout for these with standing and energy, the membership was constructed round a baobab tree, and to fireside up its musical roster, its well-connected homeowners poached Star Band singers Balla Sidibe, Rudy Gomis and guitarist Barthelemy Attisso. Bassist Charlie Ndiaye and percussionist Mountaga Koite quickly adopted, joined by rhythm guitarist Latfi Ben Jelloun, Nigerian clarinet participant Peter Udo, and veteran griot singer Laye Mboup.
With that, the stage was set for Orchestra Baobab to set the tempo for a brand new period of recent Senegalese and African music, drawing by the membership’s doorways a various city crowd starting from businessmen and politicians to military officers and expats.
Combining pop, soul and conventional music from throughout Senegal and past, Orchestra Baobab rapidly developed a particular raft of kinds that mirrored the cultural combine and the sturdy musical personalities of its members. Balla and Rudy hailed from Senegal’s culturally wealthy Casamance, saxophonist Issa Cissokho from Mali, and Latfi from Morocco. Guitarist Attisso – the lawyer-turned-guitarist whose arpeggio runs would develop into one of many band’s scintillating logos – got here from Togo, however what sure these myriad components as tight as a drum pores and skin was a powerful Cuban affect, launched to Senegal by sailors flowing out and in of the Port of Dakar.
Over the following decade, Orchestra Baobab stored evolving with an ever-changing lineup of members and launched a lot of basic information alongside the way in which.
Nevertheless, by the tip of 1983 Baobab had unofficially disbanded, and it wasn’t till Nick Gold and Youssou N’Dour inspired the group to reform 15 lengthy years later that Orchestra Baobab rose once more at their now-famous London Barbican gig in 2001 and acquired a standing ovation that appeared to go on ceaselessly.
As the brand new century superior, Baobab’s distinctive heartbeat could possibly be heard as soon as once more on 2002’s seductive Specialist In All Kinds, and the much more absolutely realized, 2007’s Made In Dakar.
Ten years on, and Baobab’s lineup has continued to evolve, with some unhappy departures and a few thrilling new additions over the previous decade. Guitar participant Barthemely Attisso moved again to Lomé to proceed his profession in regulation, and Ndiouga Dieng and Issa Cissokho sadly handed away in November 2016 and March 2019 respectively. Now, alongside Baobab stalwarts together with founding members Balla Sidibé, bassist Charlie Ndiaye and percussionist Mountaga Koité, there’s new rhythm guitarist Yahya Fall (a veteran of the Dakar music scene) and Beninese lead guitarist Rene Sowatche (probably the most outstanding of the various younger West African musicians flocking to Dakar for its burgeoning dwell scene). The horn part now options Benin-born Wilfred Zinzou – a participant new to Baobab, however to not Dakar – Senegal’s sole trombonist has lengthy performed with Cheikh Lô, and has been a music scene fixture for a few years. Amongst the vocalists is Ndiouga Dieng’s son Alpha, who continues the griot custom in spectacular kind.
Below the good Balla Sidibé’s management, their critically acclaimed 2017 LP Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng revisited outdated territories and broke new floor for these beloved West African veterans, and since its launch, they’ve continued to tour worldwide, bringing their wealthy and much-loved sound to new and longtime followers alike.
Celebrating 50 years as one in every of Africa’s best bands – one whose reputation has taken them world wide – is an achievement few can equal, and whereas particular Anniversary exhibits have been placed on maintain on account of the worldwide Coronavirus outbreak, plans stay in place to have fun the band and their story by filmed performances and interviews, remixes and playlists, to assist the distinguished Orchestra’s international legion of followers have fun their half-century milestone.
Picture Credit score: Youri Lenquette