Words by Philip Sweeney
I don’t know if anybody makes serious money out of the Africando operation, but apart from its musical excellence, the whole 20-year project is a triumph of organisation, persistence and, not least, marketing. Just when you’ve forgotten about the band, along comes another volume, and damn, it’s another good one. The same beautiful, solid New York salsa, underpinned by the keyboards of Oscar Hernandez, bass of Samuel Aleman and Pedro Pardo, and spot-on Latin percussion, adorned with another varied selection of African voices, arranged by the masterly Malian flautist and composer Boncana Maïga.
The hypnotic heart of this album is the sequence of four tracks beginning with ‘Xam Sa Bop’, the great Senegalese classic by the Super Cayor de Dakar. It’s followed by ‘Es Para Ti’, a tribute to the late great vocalist and character Gnonnas Pedro, ‘En Vacances’, sung by the Haitian Shoubou in French with a fab coro, and finally ‘Maria M’Boka’, an utterly delightful piece of Congolese rumba-salsa with a soufflé-light guitar solo. Congratulations to MaÏga, producer Ibrahima Sylla, Sterns, and the huge cast, from studio technicians to visa officers (and their mums).
TRACK TO TRY: ‘Xam Sa Bop’