Specialist in All Styles

LABELS: World Circuit
PERFORMER: Orchestra Baobab


Followers of Afro-Cuban music from the African end will remember Orchestra Baobab for its classic Seventies release Pirates Choice. Now the album’s reissue – reviewed in December 2001 – has started something else.

First came an effort to reform the long-disbanded group from Senegal. Shades of the story behind Buena Vista Social Club: the solo guitarist was found practising law in Togo and hadn’t played for 15 years. The resulting tour went so well that the orchestra recorded a CD in London.


‘All Styles’ isn’t an exaggeration when you think of the range of Cuban influences, and the results have the energy, sound and spirit of old, if not quite the vocal freshness. So do some of the numbers, revisited with current thoughts alongside new tracks. One item has guest spots from Youssou N’Dour, whose innovations two decades ago were partly responsible for putting Orchestra Baobab out of fashion, and from Ibrahim Ferrer, who was singing in Cuba before they were born. Hear the old album first, but the follow-up is essential listening for addicts.