Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Released in England in fall 2007 to rapturous reviews, Made In Dakar has landed on many British critics' year-end, best-of lists. The Guardian called Orchestra Baobab 'masters of an urban style that pairs rippling, fast-flowing guitar lines with impassioned vocals and sophisticated dance rhythms. These move effortlessly from Rumba, Reggae and highlife to more indigenous grooves such as mbalax and their own `mbalsa,' an infectious Salsa hybrid heard on the track 'Ami Kita Bay.' The Sunday Times agreed by declaring the group 'a walking compendium of West African music, saxophones and guitars rocking in rhythm over sinuous percussion.' 11 tracks.
"The venerable Orchestra Baobab, elegant throwbacks to the "belle epoque" of Senegalese music in the 1970s, disbanded in 1985, as local audiences increasingly turned to the rootsier, more edgy and percussive mbalax style spearheaded by singer Youssou N'Dour and Etoile De Dakar.
Happily, while Baobab's stately Afro-Cuban style may have sounded anachronistic to younger listeners in Dakar, it attracted the growing overseas audience for African music which was emerging in the mid 1980s. Pioneering world music label World Circuit released an album of early 1980s tracks titled Pirates Choice (World Circuit, 1986, re-issued with an additional disc in 1989), and in 2001, fuelled by the success of Buena Vista Social Club(World Circuit, 1997), encouraged the peak-era Baobab line-up to reform and celebrate its own legacy.
Baobab's Specialist In All Styles (World Circuit, 2002) is one of the great comeback albums of recent years. The good news is that Made In Dakar, its follow-up, delivers more of the same - a mixture of new tunes and re-arranged classic hits, performed by the same, apparently ageless, 11-piece line-up of singers and instrumentalists.
There are a few twists along the way. N'Dour, who guested on Specialist In All Styles, does so again on one track, and the overall mbalax quotient is enhanced by the greater prominence given to Thio Mbaye's insistent, whip-crack sabar drum, a defining ingredient of mbalax. One track, "Ami Kita Bay," is a rhythmic cross between mbalax and salsa. The up-tempo closer, "Colette," even takes in ska, with a convincing, out-of-Don-Drummond trombone solo from guest Jesus Ramos.
But Baobab's quintessential, sumptuously melodic vibe is unchanged - shaped by vocalists Balla Sidibe, Rudy Gomis, Ndiouga Dieng, Medoune Diallo and Assane Mboup, who share the harmonising and take turns with the songwriting and the leads; the King Curtis-meets-Sonny Rollins tenor saxophonist Issa Cissoko; and the spacey, shimmeringly tuneful riffs and solos of lead guitarist Barthelemy Attisso.
Joint winner, with La Bonne Humeur, of this month's Number One With A Mango Award." -AllAboutJazz
Rolling Stone (p.71) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[W]ith this collection of burbling grooves, these Senegalese legends recapture the Afro-Cuban bliss of their 1982 classic, PIRATES CHOICE..."
Spin (p.116) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Revisiting tunes from nights spent in steamy Dakar dance clubs, Baobab's merry but unhurried music braids high life with Cuban-flecked rumba and American soul jazz..."
Down Beat (p.68) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "The bright, circular lines of guitarist Barthelemy Attisso make songs like 'Pape Ndiaye,' 'Aline' and 'Beni Baraale' sound pan-African -- echoing strains of the pop music of countries as distant as Sudan and South Africa."
Dirty Linen (p.41) - "These new versions shed a more modern and complex light on this very rhythmic music."
Paste (magazine) (p.70) - "MADE IN DAKAR is at its heart a throwback album. From the easy rumba of love song 'Aline' to the pure Cubanismo of 'Ami Kita Bay,' the sound is effortlessly groovy and deliciously mature..."
Pitchfork (Website) - "Each song here -- with vocals performed in Wolof, Portugese Creole, French, and Malinke -- is equally rich in history....It's dance music, pure and simple, made for others to have a good time..."
The Beat (Magazine) (p.14) - "'Nijaay' takes us way beyond the lyrical content of most American ditties....'Bikowa' is a gentle calypso launched by Issa Cissoko's dreamy alto sax..."
Adapters: Bala Sidibe; Youssou N'Dour.
Personnel: Bala Sidibe (vocals, drums, timbales); Ndiouga Dieng (vocals, congas); Medoune Diallo, Youssou N'Dour (vocals); Barthelemy Attisso (guitar); Thierno Koite (alto saxophone); Sanou Diouf (tenor saxophone); Ibou Konate (trumpet).
Audio Mixer: Jerry Boys.
Recording information: Xippi Studios, Dakar, Egypt.
Photographer: Youri Lenquette.
Arranger: Barthelemy Attisso.
Originally released in Europe in late 2007 and issued in North America the following year, MADE IN DAKAR is the second album by Orchestra Baobab following their 2002 reunion after nearly two decades apart. Evenly split between new material and reworked versions of songs from the band's 1970s heyday as one of the biggest groups in Senegal and leading lights of the burgeoning Afropop scene, MADE IN DAKAR is a danceable, lyrical delight. Highlights include the solid reworkings of old favorites like "Sibam," "Nijaay" and "Cabral."
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