Le Marigot Club Dakar (World Music Network/Riverboat Records TUGCD1052, 2009)
Daby Balde’s debut CD from a few years ago remains one of the very best in World Music Network’s Introducing series and now the rising star from Senegal has an equally strong follow-up here. Balde was born in Casamance, the same southern Senegalese region that spawned Toure Kunda, and his drawing upon tradition as well as keeping an ear toward sounds from elsewhere in Africa and beyond is evident in the music he’s made thus far.
The range of the repertoire he performs regularly at Le Marigot, his own club in Senegal’s capital Dakar, can be heard on this CD. There are percussion-driven songs that go down like a less frenzied, more acoustic version of Youssou N’Dour’s m’balax music as well as one powered by a flamenco-like rhythm (“Lale Kouma”), some slower fare laced with kora and violin (“Simbanam”) and jazzy saxophone (“Yaye Boye”) and even when Balde is at his most traditional-leaning, as on “Eggueh Soumbinam,” there’s a drive to the music that feels wide open and immediate.
This disc prompted me to pull out Balde’s last one and give it a reprise, and true to the title, Le Marigot Club Dakar has, to my ears, more the feel of music that would draw patrons for a night out (pure conjecture on my part, since I’ve never been to Dakar though it is on my to-do list). Let’s be clear, though. This is not the music of a club with flashing lights and a disco ball. Despite some songs having polished production values, they’re all as intimate as they are danceable. Balde sings them with the wisdom of a griot and the ease of an Afropop star, just two of the many strengths he draws upon to make his second go-around a great one.
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