Tag Archives: Senegalese music

Passionate Songs and Infectious Afro-Cuban and Senegalese Rhythms

Orchestra Baobab – Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng (Word Circuit WC092, 2017)

It’s no surprise that ‘Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng’, the new album by Senegalese band Orchestra Baobab is one of the highest rated recording in the past weeks by the two leading world music charts: the Transglobal World Music Chart and the World Music Charts Europe.

‘Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng’ brings back the captivating mix of traditional Cuban and Senegalese dance music along with some innovations. For the first time, Orchestra Baobab has added a permanent kora (West African harp) player, augmenting even more the Senegalese flavor of the band.

The title of the album makes reference to Ndiouga Dieng, the longtime vocalist for Orchestra Baobab, who passed away in November 2016.

The lineup features Balla Sidibe on vocals and timbales; Rudy Gomis on vocals; Issa Sissoko on tenor saxophone; Thierno Koite on tenor and alto saxophone; Charlie Ndiaye on bass; Mountaga Koite on congas; Abdouleye Cissoko on kora; Oumar Sow on guitar; Yahya Fall on rhythm guitar; and Beninese musicians Wilfried Zinzou on trombone and rising guitarist Rene Sowatche.

Two special guests participated in the recording sessions, world music star Cheikh Lo who appears in the song ‘Magno Kouto’ and former Baobab vocalist Thione Seck, who recreates the hit ‘Sey’.

The physical version of the album comes in a very nicely-packaged format, as a hard cover book with song descriptions, photos and illustrations.

On Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng, the extraordinary Orchestra Baobab treats the listener to a beautiful set of passionate songs and infectious Afro-Cuban and Senegalese beats.

Buy Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng in the Americas and rest of the world

Buy Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng in Europe

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Orchestra Baobab’s ‘Tribute To Ndiouga Dieng’ Reaches Number 1 at Transglobal World Music Chart

Tribute To Ndiouga Dieng’, the new album by the iconic Senegalese band Orchestra Baobab has reached the top of the Transglobal World Music Chart. The current lineup features veterans as well as newcomers, including a kora player for the first time, Abdouleye Cissoko.

The band will be on tour in europe this month:

05 May – Het Depot, Leuven, BEL
06 May – Melkweg, Amsterdam, NL
07 May – Lantaren Venster, Rotterdam, NL
11 May – Fabrik, Hamburg, DE
12 May – Gretchen, Berlin, DE
13 May – Jazz Cafe, London, UK
14 May – Jazz Cafe, London, UK
16 May – Cabaret Sauvage, Paris, FR
17 May – Festival Jazzelrault, Chattelerault, FR
19 May – Cosmopolite, Oslo, NOR

Buy Tribute To Ndiouga Dieng

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Artist Profiles: Ousseynou Kouyate

Ousseynou Kouyate was a member of the National Ballet of Senegal for seven years before moving to Berkeley with his twin brother Assane and starting their colorful music/dance band Djialy Kunda Kouyate (now known as Sekhou Senegal), using such indigenous instruments as the kora and balafon.

Kouyate is a descendant of griots who carries on age-old traditions. He has performed in various world music collaborations at Ashkenaz music club with such musicians as fellow African star Solo Cissokho and Cajun/zydeco fiddler Tom Rigney.

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Artist Profiles: Cheikh Lô

Cheikh Lo - Photo by Bernard Benant
Cheikh Lo – Photo by Bernard Benant

Cheikh Lô is one of the great trailblazers of African music. A superb singer and songwriter as well as a distinctive guitarist, percussionist and drummer he has personalized a variety of influences from West and Central Africa, to create a style that is uniquely his own.

Lô dedicates both his life and music to Baye Fall, a specifically Senegalese form of Islam and part of the larger Islamic brotherhood of Mouridism. Established by Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba M’Becke at the end of the 19th century, Mouridism emerged from opposition to French colonialism and many fabulous stories are told of Bamba’s struggles with the authorities who feared that the rapid spread of Mouridism would inspire armed insurrection. Bamba’s closest disciple Cheikh Ibra Fall (also known as Lamp Fall) established the Baye Fall movement, and he was the first to wear the patchwork clothes and long dreadlocks that are still Baye Fall trademarks today. Cheikh Lô’s own marabout, Maame Massamba N’Diaye is said to be over 100 years old, and was a disciple of Cheikh Ibra Fall; Cheikh Lô wears his picture in a pendant around his neck.

Cheikh Lô was born in 1955, to Senegalese parents in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, not far from the border with Mali, where he grew up speaking Bambara (language of Mali), Wolof (language of Senegal) and French. His father was from a long line of marabouts. From an early age Lô was only interested in music, running away from school to teach himself guitar and percussion on borrowed instruments.

During his teens he listened to all kinds of music, especially the Congolese rumba which was popular throughout Africa. Cuban music was also all the rage in West Africa at this time, so when his older brothers started up their 78s and danced to ‘El Pancho Bravo’, Cheikh, without understanding a word, would mime exactly to the Spanish lyrics.

 

Cheikh Lô
Cheikh Lô

 

At 21 he started singing and playing percussion with Orchestra Volta Jazz in Bobo Dioulasso. The band played a variety of music from Burkina Faso and neighboring countries, as well Cuban and other styles.

In 1981 he moved to Dakar, Senegal where he played drums for the renowned and progressive singer, Ouza, before joining the house band at the Hotel Savana, drumming and singing an international repertoire.

In 1984 he moved to Paris and worked as a studio session drummer. He recalls: ”Studio – sleep – studio for two years. I love Congolese and Cameroonian music and I absorbed a lot of it during this period”. On his return to Senegal he found that his (now very long) dreadlocks made him no longer entirely welcome at the Hotel Savana so he concentrated on his own music.

Cheikh’s first cassette ‘Doxandeme’ (‘Immigrants’), on which he sang about the experience of being Senegalese abroad, came out in 1990. Despite his reservations about the quality of the local production, it sold well and earned him the ‘Nouveau Talent’ award in Dakar. The following year he started to work on the compositions for his album ‘Ne La Thiass’.

Youssou N’Dour first encountered Lô as a session singer in 1989. “Whenever he sang the choruses I was overwhelmed by his voice,” explains N’Dour, “but I really got to know him from his cassette ‘Doxandeme’. I heard his voice and said “wow” – I found something in his voice that’s like a voyage through Burkina, Niger, Mali”.

Lô continued to develop his own repertoire, holding out for better recording conditions for his next production. In August 1995 Youssou N’Dour agreed to produce the next album at his Xippi Studio in Dakar.

 

Cheikh Lô - Ne La Thiass
Cheikh Lô – Ne La Thiass

 

On this album ‘Ne La Thiass’, Lô is joined on vocals by Youssou N’Dour (‘Guiss Guiss’ and ‘Set’) and by musicians from N’dour’s Super Etoile de Dakar. Lo’s signature sound – a semi acoustic, Spanish-tinged take on the popular mbalax style – was an instant success in Senegal gaining him a dedicated local following. ‘Set’ – a plea to clean up the streets during a Dakar municipal strike, was broadcast on loudspeakers throughout the country in a campaign by the Ministry of Health.

 

Cheikh Lô
Cheikh Lô

 

Ne La Thiass was released internationally on World Circuit in 1996 and followed by a highly successful European tour. His early performances prompted rave reviews.

In 1997 he was awarded Best Newcomer at the Kora All-African Awards in South Africa and the following year he toured the US, as part of the ‘Africa-Fête’ line-up that included Salif Keita and Papa Wemba. In 1999 he received the prestigious ‘Ordre National de Merite de Léon’ from the President of Senegal.

Cheikh’s second album Bambay Gueej (World Circuit) was released in 1999. It was co-produced by Nick Gold and Youssou N’Dour in Dakar with additional recording in Havana and London. Expanding on his previous album, he drew on sounds from Burkina Faso, Mali (with guest Oumou Sangare), and incorporated touches of Cuban son (with Richard Egues on flute) and funk (with Pee Wee Ellis of James Brown fame on saxophone).

His eclectic mix was furthered on Lamp Fall (World Circuit 2005) by his discovery of Brazilian sounds and rhythms and he traveled to Bahia, Brazil to work with acclaimed producer Alê Siqueira (Tribalistas, Omara Portuondo). These Brazilian recordings were coupled on the album with sessions recorded in Dakar and London.

For the next few years Lo withdrew from the international stage and immersed himself in the Dakar scene playing regularly with his own band. This return to home is reflected in his album ‘Jamm,’ His which blends semi-acoustic flavors, including West and Central African, Cuban, and flamenco.

In 2015, Cheikh Lô received the World Music Expo (WOMEX) Artist Award.

 

Discography:

Ne La Thiass (Saprom Productions, 1996)
Bambay Gueej (World Circuit, 1999)
Lamp Fall (World Circuit, 2005)
Jamm (World Circuit, 2010)
Balbalou (Chapter Two, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Omar Pene

Omar Pene
Omar Pene

Omar Pene (born 1956 in Dakar) is the iconic lead singer of the Super Diamono. He was born in the working class neighborhood of Derkle, in 1956. Joining his first band, Cad, in 1975, he remained with the group for a few months. In the mid seventies (1975-1976), he joined the Super Diamono, one of the longest running Senegalese popular bands, similar to Orchestra Baobab and the Super Etoile of Dakar.

Recruited by Bailo Diagne, the first bass-player and a founding member of the group, Omar Pene stood out as the most natural fixture in the band. Along with his band members, Bassirou Diagne, Bob Sene, Aziz Seck, Lapa Diagne, Adama Faye, Abdou Mbacke and, later, Ismael Lo, already known as “l’homme orchestre” (one man band) due to his solo performances, they helped shape Senegalese contemporary music.

During the 1980s, in Dakar, there were two dominant types of music fans, the ones attracted by the frenetic and highly syncopative Mbalax of the Super Etoile, who frequented Djender and later on Thiossane night club; and those who loved the progressive bluesy-funky- soulful brand of local fusion of Super Diamono- who filled the Balafon Club located on the other side of town, near the Port Autonome de Dakar.

Although Omar Pene and Youssou N’dour, always maintained an healthy and lively artistic competition, their supporters pledged a loyalty only seen among opposing football fans (soccer). In many ways, both used the Mbalax, which is almost unavoidable, once the Sabar is involved, but they did it differently.

Over the years many of the group’s original members went on to other things, Omar Pene stayed; and to this day- even as he is now enjoying his solo journey he uses the Super Diamono, as a backup band.

In 2009 he released the all acoustic album Ndam.

Omar Pene established himself as a “conscious singer,” instead of indulging in praise songs- as many of his contemporaries did in honor of the riches and famous, he maintained a repertoire of socially engaged and sensitive songs. To this date, he has released dozens of hits in more than thirty albums and cassettes.

Discography:

Greedy Dayaan (Disques Griot GR 7604, 1984)

Ndaxami (MCA 303, 1984)

Mam (Celluloid CEL 8011, 1984)

Cheick Anta Diop (Celluloid 08530-1, 1989)

Nila (Celluloid 66909-2, 1992)

Fari (Stern’s STCD 1051, 1993)

20 Ans Deja (Africando Sylaf 9602, 1996)

Tiki Tiki (Africando Sylaf 96017, 1997)

Direct from Dakar (WOMAD Select WSCD102, 1997)

Nanga Def (Africando Sylaf 96030, 1998)

Diamono Groove (Africando Sylaf 96101, 2000)

Integration Africaine (Sonodisc CDS 7062, 2000)

25 Ans (Night & Day NDCD 083, 2001)

Myamba (2005)

Ndam (Aztec Musique, 2009)

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Senegalese M’balax Star Pape Cheikh Diouf Announces North American Tour 2016

Pape Cheikh Diouf
Pape Cheikh Diouf

Celebrated Senegalese artist Pape Cheikh Diouf wil be touring North America in July and August. He derives his music on his family’s guewel (griot) traditions to sing about love, life lessons and the Wolof ideal of “teranga” – mutual respect, acceptance and hospitality.

A member of the Lemzo Diamono Group, Pape Diouf made his solo recording debut in 1998, and, with the help of his band, la Gènèration Conciente, has revitalized Dakar’s classic m’balax sound ever since. His stirring songs, enthralling voice and charismatic stage presence have earned him a string of hits, including 2011’s “Bèguè”, which made him a superstar in West Africa.

His most recent album, Rakkaaju, was released to massive critical and popular acclaim in Senegal in 2014, reinforcing Diouf’s place as a leading artist in Dakar.

Pape Cheikh Diouf 2016 North American Tour Dates:

Sunday, July 9th: The Cultural Building, Harlem, NY
Sunday, July 10th: The Music Haven Concert Series, Schenectady, NY
Friday, July 15th: Detroit, MI — TBA
Saturday, July 16th: Chicago, IL — TBA
Sunday, July 17th: Festival Fete de Marquette, Madison, WI
Monday, July 18th: The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis, MN
Friday, July 22nd: Cincinnati, OH — TBA
Saturday, July 23rd, Atlanta, GA — TBA
Friday, July 23rd: RI — TBA
Saturday, July 30th: Washington, DC
Saturday, August 6th: Montreal, QC
Sunday, August 7th: ACANA Festival, Philadelphia, PA

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Reflection of Élage Diouf’s Musical Journey

Élage Diouf – Melokáane (Pump Up The World, 2015)

Quebec-based Senegalese singer-songwriter and percussionist Élage Diouf incorporates various musical traditions in his latest album titled Melokáane. The recording features a well-crafted mix of West African roots music, blues, rock, reggae and electronic music elements.

Élage Diouf uses his native Wolof as well as English and French to express himself. Most of his songs are originals except for a great Wolof-language version of Peter Gabriel’s classic song ‘Secret World.’

Highlights include the fabulous blues song ‘Tay’, featuring outstanding guitar work by jazz and blues guitarist Jordan Officer; the captivating Senegalese-style guitar and percussion in the title track ‘Melokáane’; and the festive hip shaker ‘Foula ak Fayda’.

Melokáane is an engaging album by the talented and passionate Élage Diouf.

Buy Melokáane

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Transglobal World Music Chart for February 2016

Senegalese artist Baaba Maal’s new album The Traveller is the number one album of the Transglobal World Music Chart in February 2016. The Traveller was recorded in both London and Senegal and was produced by Johan Hugo from The Very Best. The Traveller features Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons, who met Baaba Maal at his annual music festival ‘Blues Du Fleuve’ in Fouta, northern Senegal. “Working with Johan, I feel we have achieved a new mix of sensibilities and sounds that can’t be put in a box,” says Baaba Maal about the new album. “The Traveller defines how I feel about the planet, that despite its many problems, there is a lot of inspiration, and hope and beauty.”

Top 20 World Music Albums

1 Baaba Maal – The Traveller (Marathon Artists / Palm Recordings)
2 Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood & The Rajasthan Express – Junun (Nonesuch Records)
3 Čači Vorba – Šatrika (Oriente Musik)
4 Lura – Herança (Lusafrica)
5 Sidestepper – Supernatural Love (Real World Records)
6 Dizu Plaatjies and Friends – Ubuntu-The Common String (Mountain Records)
7 Vieux Farka Touré & Julia Easterlin – Touristes (Six Degrees Records)
8 Bixiga 70 – III (Glitterbeat Records)
9 L’Attirail – La Route Interieure (Les Chantiers Sonores)
10 Kreiz Breizh Akademi – 5ed Round (Innacor)
11 Sam Lee & Friends – The Fade in Time (The Nest Collective)
12 Las Hermanas Caronni – Navega Mundos (Les Grands Fleuves)
13 Bareto – Impredecible (World Village)
14 Oratnitza – Folktron (Fusion Embassy)
15 Michael Messer’s Mitra – Call of the Blues (Knife Edge Record)
16 Dimitris Mystakidis – Esperanto (Fishbow)
17 Kandia Kouyaté – Renascence (Sterns Music)
18 Sahra Halgan Trio – Faransiskiyo Somaliland (Buda Musique)
19 Bayarbaatar Davaasuren – The Art of Mongolian Khöömii [Throat Singing] (ARC Music)
20 Zulya and the Children of the Underground – On Love and Science (Zulya and the Children of the Underground)

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Senegal Got the Blues

Modou Touré & Ramon Goose - The West African Blues Project (ARC Music EUCD2591, 2015)
Modou Touré & Ramon Goose – The West African Blues Project (ARC Music EUCD2591, 2015)

The West African Blues Project brings together Senegalese vocalist and percussionist Modou Toure (son of Toure Kunda singer Ousmane Toure) and British blues guitarist Ramon Goose. Although there’s been an explosion of Malian desert blues in recent years, The West African Blues Project goes in a very different direction incorporating easygoing acoustic blues, Afropop, rocket-fueled blues-rock, and Senegalese rhythms.

Ramon Goose demonstrates his admirable skill as a guitarist using various types of guitars (acoustic, electric, slide) and blues techniques that create wonderful interplay with Modou Toure’s expressive vocals.

The West African Blues Project

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