Africando represents a cross-cultural collaboration between top-ranked, New York-based, Latin musicians and African vocalists. While lyrics are sung in Yoruba, Wolof, Mandigo and French, the group's sizzling-hot dance rhythms blend classic mambo, Cuban son and mandigo traditions. Africando was initially drawn together by producers Ibrahima Sylba and Boncana Maiga. The group's debut album, Trovodor, released in 1993, featured the vocals of West Senegalese singers Pape Seck, Medoune Diallo and Nicolas Manheim. Although Seck passed away shortly after the album's release, the band continued to grow. By the time that they recorded their second album, Tierra Tradicional, released in 1995, the group's vocals were shared by Tabu Ley Rochereau of Zaire, Bambino Diabete of Guinea, Gnonnas Pedro of Benin and original vocalist, Diallo. Africando's third album, Gombo Salsa, released in 1997, featured a guest appearance by Roger Eugene of Tabou Combo. Their fourth album, Balboa, released in 1998, focused on the pre-World War II, sexteto tipico music of Cuba. Musicians in Africando include Hector Zarzuela (horns), Chino and Pablo Nunezon (timbales), Dave Rimelis (fiddle), Pape Pepin (conga), Hector "Bamberiot" Zarzuela and Ite Herez (trumpets). Mandali was issued in fall 2000. ~ Craig Harris
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Africa - Released January 1, 2001 | Syllart Records
This is Africando live on-stage, at the Zenith in Paris in the summer of 2001, with all its raw energy. It's the first live album from this phenomenal hybrid group composed of the best African and Caribbean musicians paired with the cream of New York City's Latin music scene. The distinguished delivery of the individual tracks is unique. Each singer/sonero places his mark on each of the 17 dynamite tracks pushing this double-CD into dance stardom. The variety of vocals avoids the sameness plagued by many contemporary salsa albums. It also surpasses many of those albums by driving deep into the primordial roots of the music; one listen will convince that Africando has some seriously danceable salsa going on. This is African-Latin music with lots of thrust and stretched-out grooves. Hot blaring horns coupled with steamroller percussion make for a volcanic mix. You can hear the crowd's frenzy as they feed back to the musicians and vice versa. This rapport is very special and has been captured on the live CD, and on the equally exceptional DVD that has two bonus tracks on it. For those who thought that Africando was an artificial studio phenomenon, this romping live performance should eliminate that doubt right away. Highly recommended. ~ Mark Romano
Africa - Released January 1, 2003 | Syllart Records
Martina, Africando's sixth studio album, continues the group's unique take on African and classic Cuban styles. The group hasn't dropped a beat and this album is a testimony to its staying power. This is helped by a continual injection of new talent built on a solid foundation of some of the best African, Latin, and Antillean musicians performing in the business. The album is a tribute to the eternal African woman and it's a potent homage that churns up the African-Latin musical waters quite a bit. Ismaël Lo's "Lote Lo" is a finely crafted ballad to a recently deceased friend. His voice brings another dimension to this already talent-packed super group. Congolese legends, Nyboma and Emeneya stir it up on Papa Wemba's "Reference." The inimitable Gnonnas Pedro of Benin recreates his "Azo Nkplon" from the 1970s with gusto to spare. Tabou Combo's Shoubou turns in a fine mid-tempo exhortation to all the youth of the world. Senegal's Seka pushes it higher with his "Dioumte" replete with fiery keyboard work. A better tribute to Mama Africa would be difficult to find. Africando does it with an enormously gifted cast of musicians. At one time or another, there are over 45 musicians on Martina and there's no stopping them. This is highly recommended. ~ Mark Romano
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