Senegalese Sound

If you were an alien charged with reporting on the complexities of recent human history, you could do a lot worse than researching Orchestra Baobab. The Senegalese group, named for the Dakar nightclub that was its first host in 1970, is a microcosm of cultural colonialism and rebirth. Baobab's sound reflects of the symbiosis of Cuban and African music in the 1950s and '60s, an era when the rhythms initially brought by African slaves to the island nation mutated and in turn influenced West and Central Africa, becoming Congolese rumba, soukous, and highlife, among other styles. Baobab takes this sonic migration full circle. On a tune like its version of the Cuban standard “El Son te Llama,” the stately Cuban piano montunos are replaced by gorgeously interlocked guitars and lilting rhythms, which reflect the group's status as a truly pan-global phenomenon.

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