Pirates Choice

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: World Circuit
PERFORMER: Orchestra Baobab
CATALOGUE NO: WCD 063

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A decade later, ORCHESTRA BAOBAB set the musical pace in Senegal, with Afro-Cuban music conceived the other way round. This is Africa not just getting hold of transatlantic innovations, but homing in on the West African content of established styles from Cuba. So here is rumba sung in French, and laid-back son derivatives, done with a lightness and transparency from the guitar’s adoption of piano patterns to the simplified and freed-up percussion patterns.

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The 12 long tracks date from one session in 1982, just before the Youssou N’Dour era, and the CD starts with the six tracks that made a hit international LP. It’s a sidelight on industry practice that these were the most Latin and least superficially African-sounding. That makes the rest doubly interesting now, as they are just as strong and full of bite and energy.