Baikouba Badji and Modibo Traore – Babu Casamance!

Baikouba Badji and Modibo Traore

Babu Casamance! (Cafe Tilibo, 2003)

Modibo Traore has a mission. Visit his website and you’ll notice an emphasis on leprosy prevention as much as on his new CD. A dollar from each CD sold returns to Senegal for leprosy and sustainability projects. And the title track “Babu Casamance!” was recorded at a leprosy village in Teubi, Casamance. This CD completes a circle for Traore, who learned traditional songs as a youth by assisting with ceremonies, then pounding out the rhythms on his homemade tin-can drums with plastic heads. Now based in Seattle, Traore returned to Senegal in January 2003 to play and record with the people of Casamance and master bougarabou player Saikouba Badji of Gambia.

Close your eyes and you’ll find yourself under a shade tree in midday, or around a fire late at night, soaking in the rhythm, the clapping, the group singing. The recordings by Rebecca Zimmer are wonderfully clean and crisp, but the liner notes remind that the musicians are not professionals-special thanks are extended to the musicians who gave up valuable time away from their jobs to participate. Except for translations of song titles, no song details are included. But the titles alone convey a variety of real-life themes: “Father gave me a need to dance,” “Man is tired,” “She wants peanut sauce,” and “Shake it!” An authentic aural slice of rural African life, this music will transport you to a village far away, where people make wonderful music about familiar concerns.