Africando is part of the interesting phenomenon of round-trip rhythms that come and go from the Americas. It is well known that salsa and Caribbean rhythms have African roots. But it is also true that a lot of modern African music owes a lot of its influences to salsa and Cuban son.
Africando is a group that brings together African and Caribbean cultures together. It was formed in 1992 by Senegalese and Latin musicians who met each other thanks to Malian flautist Boncana Maiga. Maiga loved Cuban music ever since he visited the island as an exchange student. Boncana Maiga and producer Ibrahima Sylla brought together three Senegalese singers: Nicolas Menheim, Pape Seck (from the Star Band de Dakar) and Medoune Diallo, who used to be the lead singer for Orchestre Baobab. Boncana Maiga recruited some of the best New York-based salsa musicians: Adalberto Santiago, Yayo el Indio, Ronnie Baró, Sergio George, Johnny Torres, Bobby Allende, Bomberito Zarzuela, Papo Pepín and many others who have played with well known bands such as Orquesta Broadway, Fania All Stars, Sonora Matancera, Sonora Ponceña or the Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri and Cachao bands.
The result of this incredible gathering of talented musicians was an album titled “Trovador” sung in a new language that the Senegalese musicians wolofspañol (a mixture of Senegalese Wolof and Spanish). A song from Africando’s second album, “Tierra tradicional,” reached the top of New York’s Latin charts.
In 1995, one of the Senegalese singers, Pape Seck, sadly died and the remaining two singers had to look for a replacement. Instead of one they found two: singer Gnonnas Pedro, from Benin and Ronnie Baró, singer of the Orquesta Broadway, brother-in-law of Boncana Maiga and a collaborator with the band since the very beginning.
On the latest albums, more guest singers were invited, such as Sekouba Bambino, Medoune Diallo, Amadou Balake and Koffi Olomide, which led to the new name Africando All Stars.
While in the beginning the songs were Latin classics sung in Wolof or a mix of Wolof and Spanish, the newer songs were primarily African classics, redone with Latin rhythms and instrumentation. With both approaches, Africando has been equally successful.
Volume 1: Trovador (Stern’s Africa STCD1045, 1993)
Volume 2: Tierra Tradicional (Stern’s Africa STCD1054, 1994)
Gombo Salsa (Stern’s Africa STCD1071, 1996)
Baloba! (Stern’s Africa STCD1082, 1998)
Mandali (Stern’s Africa STCD1092, 2000)e
Live! (Sono CDS8907, double CD, 2001)
Martina (Stern’s Africa STCD1096, 2003)
Ketukuba (Stern’s Africa STCD1103, 2006)
Viva Africando (Stern’s Music STCD1120, 2013)
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.