Albums

Africa - Released September 14, 2018 | Analog Africa

Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
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Africa - Released May 11, 2018 | World Circuit

Booklet Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
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Africa - Released March 16, 2018 | Buda musique

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Songlines Five-star review
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Africa - Released November 24, 2017 | Dead Sea Recordings

Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
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Africa - Released October 28, 2017 | Sahel Sounds

Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
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Africa - Released September 15, 2017 | World Circuit

Booklet Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
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For 40 years now, the Kronos Quartet (which was founded by the violinist David Harrington) has been exploring the limits of art music from the western world and it’s possible comparison with traditions of all ethnic backgrounds. Here they tune up with a trio of virtuosos from Mali who descended from a large family of griots. The powerful singer Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté is the daughter of the well-respected Kassé Mady Diabaté. On the bass we have N’goni, Mamadou Kouyaté, the daughter of the master of this instrument - Bassekou Kouyaté. Finally, there’s Fodé Lassana Diabaté, who is one of the most sought after balafon players in the world. This work, paired with the chamber music group from San Francisco, started in 2013 and was driven by the Agha Khan Music Initiative, which brought together these two poles. Slowly but surely, the Kronos Quartet brought together bit by bit this collation so as to move towards an untouched musical space where each world seems to put the other first and work on establishing a new horizon. © BM/Qobuz
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Africa - Released September 1, 2017 | Soundway Records

Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
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Africa - Released | No Format!

Hi-Res Distinctions Songlines Five-star review

Africa - Released March 31, 2017 | World Circuit

Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
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Going ten years between albums is no big deal for Senegal's Orchestra Baobab, whose integration of West African and Afro-Cuban styles made them a sensation in 1970. After cutting more than 20 albums between then and 1987, they split up for 15 years. They reunited for a tour in 2001, just as 1989's classic Pirates Choice was reissued by World Circuit. They followed the tour with the killer set Specialist in All Styles, comprised of new material, a year later. (It was produced by Youssou N'Dour.) After more international touring, local residencies, and family commitments, it took another six years for Made in Dakar to materialize, but it was worth the wait. Any band with a 47-year history has seen changes; OB is no exception. These began in 1974 when their original Wolof singer Laye Mboup was killed in a car crash. The band's two great Casamance vocalists, Balla Sidibe and Rudy Gomis, enlisted Ndiouga Dieng -- the subject of this tribute -- to fill his shoes. Dieng was an active member until his death in 2016. (He was replaced by his son for this recording.) Founding guitarist Barthelemy Attisso, from Togo, also left to pursue his law career full-time. Sidibe, Gomis, saxophonists Issa Cissoko and Thierno Koite, and longtime rhythm section -- bassist Charlie Ndiaye and conguero Mountaga Koite -- remain the core. (Sidibe also plays timbales.) New rhythm guitarist Yahya Fall (Etoile de Dakar) joins the section with Oumar Sow and Rene Sowatche. For the first time in their history, they have a kora player in Abdouleye Cissoko, and the trademark sax section gets a boost in the bottom end from new trombonist Wilfried Zinzou. This version of the band doesn't burn so much as it simmers, and it's a wonderful thing. On opener "Foulo," the interplay between guitars and kora creates a gentle sway. The horns and percussion don't strut, they slide. The Casamance vocalists glide over the top of the rhythm section, creating a great vibe for dancing or romancing. Following suit is the single "Fayinkounko," with its R&B-styled horn lines, hypnotic percussion, and bubbling dubwise bass. The stringed instruments all trade places while painting the tune's frame. "Natalia" is an Afro-Cuban son at heart, with sultry saxophone exchanges and punchy guitars and drums kissed by Cissoko's bright kora to create contrast. Former Baobab member and African singing superstar Thione Seck rejoins the band in order to reprise his first hit with them in a smoking version of "Sey." Likewise, Cheikh Lo also guests on "Magnokouto," a gorgeous marriage of Northern Senegalese pop and pachanga. "Caravana" weds a rhumba-esque bolero to sweet griot soul. In sum, Tribute To Ndiouga Dieng may delineate a new phase for this band in the studio, but the music on offer is satisfying; it's deeper and wider and the elements of joy are untouched by time. And make no mistake, it still slides down the spine toward the belly to create an almost irresistible temptation to dance. ~ Thom Jurek
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Africa - Released March 17, 2017 | Glitterbeat Records

Booklet Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
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Africa - Released October 28, 2016 | Numero Group

Distinctions Best New Reissue - Songlines Five-star review
Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta is a hefty, handsome box set; it's equal parts photo exhibit and musical anthology documenting the landlocked nation (now known as Burkina Faso) during the 1970s. It shines a light on Bobo-Dioulasso's music scene as an explosion of pop culture paved the way for 1983's coup d'etat led by Thomas Sankara (a former jazz musician) to rename the country. Revolution is a process, not an event, and this artifact offers one kind of proof. The 176-page hardbound book provides an introductory essay with a fine historical overview of colonial, post-colonial, and pre-revolutionary Upper Volta. A short note by photographer Sory Sanle offers his story, and is followed by dozens of his quietly stunning black-and-white photos that include studio portraits, promo shots of musicians, and night-time street scenes. There are biographies of the country's legendary groups Volta Jazz, Dafra Star (led by former -- and best -- VJ vocalist Coulibaly Tidiani), Echo del Africa, and Les Imbattables Leopards, and interviews. Full-color photos of various recordings adorn some pages, as do complete discographies of important labels. And, of course, there is the music. The set includes a disc each by Volta Jazz and Dafra Star. They offer rare tracks illustrating a startling crossroads where Malian and Nigerian melodies and rhythms collide with those of Ghana and Niger. Along the way, they encounter and build on Cuban rhythms, rock, and R&B sounds from the Americas. Check Volta Jazz's mind-melting "Mousso Koroba Tike." Fuzzed-up psychedelic wah-wah guitars and rock drums run headlong into highlife, accompanied by polyrhythmic hand drums and souled-out vocal harmonies. Contrast this with Dafra Star's fusion of call-and-response Malian folk and Latin-inspired funk in "Sie Koumgolo." Echo del Africa opens disc three with the cooking, Afrobeat-drenched funk of "Gentlemen Doromina." Later, they showcase a driving, Yoruban-cum-Juju pulse and chant in "Yiri Wah." Les Imbattables Leopards move through sweet, tender Afro-soul on "Milaoba" then get salsa-fied on "Nene." This disc also includes the popping dance number "He Ya Wanna" by Ouedraogo Youssef -- complete with Stax soul-styled horns -- and "Arindo" by Idy-O-Idrissa, a waltz-time R&B ballad whose melody derives from the Sahel folk tradition. Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta is one of Numero's most obsessively assembled artifacts, and given their high standards, that's saying plenty. While many labels release varied, excellent portraits of music from the African continent, Numero's project illustrates a particular place and time that laid the foundation for an entire people to build a nation. ~ Thom Jurek

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Africa in the magazine