Review: Senegal's Orchestra Baobab returns with dance galore

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Posted: Apr 03, 2017 12:59 PM
Review: Senegal's Orchestra Baobab returns with dance galore

Orchestra Baobab, "Tribute To Ndiouga Dieng" (World Circuit Records)

Senegal's Orchestra Baobab honors a former bandmate on "Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng," a spicy mix of African and Cuban tempos with no rust and a fluctuating pulse.

Relying on two-saxophone leads and kora player Abdoulaye Cissoko to partially fill in for Barthelemy Attisso — their long-time guitarist now busy with a legal career — the orchestra's seemingly effortless ability to create irresistible dance rhythms remains intact even after a 10-year pause.

Dieng died in November 2016 but his son Alpha has been recruited to sing his songs. Regular vocalists Balla Sidibe, also on timbales, and Rudy Gomis continue their strong work, joined in exciting guest spots by Cheikh Lo and West African megastar Thione Seck, also a Baobab alumni, who reprises "Sey," a dance-floor classic.

Formed in 1970, the band's career was revived by the re-edition of its mouthwatering, hip-shaking "Pirates Choice," and they got back together in 2001. This is just their third album since that return — after the Grammy-nominated "Specialist In All Styles" from 2002 and 2007's "Made in Dakar" — and it's a wonderful addition to their rich catalog.

It's subtlety and insinuation as much as the actual tick-tick-tock of the percussion and Charlie Ndiaye's velvety bass guitar that complete the seduction, as the band disguises its achievements with all the skills of a suave lover. Or, in this case, a whole orchestra of them!