Orchestra Baobab
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Orchestra Baobab
Specialist in all styles
World Circuit / Nonesuch

cd cover The resurgence of interest in the bands of the "Golden era" of West African music has led to many of the great formations, such as Bembeya Jazz and The Super Rail Band, releasing new material and embarking on international tours. Senegal's Orchestra Baobab were one of the top outfits throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, with over twenty LPs to their credit. "Specialist in all styles" is their first studio recording in over 15 years, and it finds the group in good form. That effortless and perfect groove, which is the hallmark of Orchestra Baobab, is immediately apparent, with strong flavors of Cuba supported by rich vocal harmonies and magnificent flowing guitar and saxophone solos. The band re-work many of their former signature tunes - "Dée moo wóor" is a new version of their classic "Aduna jarul nawoo," which appeared on 1998's N'Wolof CD; "El son de llama" and "On verra ça" closely approximate the same tracks from their 1992 CD On verra ça; "Hommage à Tonton Ferrer" is an adaptation of "Utru Horas" from Pirate's Choice; "Sutukun" is a re-working of "Sutukum" from their Roots and Fruit CD of 1999; and "Ndongoy daara" has also appeared before on one of Baobab's Senegalese LPs. Perhaps Orchestra Baobab have not gone quite far enough with Specialist in all styles in that they have failed to include enough new material. Also, the newer versions are very close to the originals - perhaps being too imitative and not quite interpretative enough. But really, this is a fine recording, and I am hesitant to criticize. It serves as a great introduction to the group and signals that they are still very capable of setting a dance floor alight. If you like salsa you'll love Orchestra Baobab, and if you love Orchestra Baobab you'll certainly like Specialist in all styles. - Graeme Counsel

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