Posts Tagged ‘orchestra baobab’

La Linea Festival: First line-up announced

Posted on December 5th, 2017 in Recent posts by .


Ana-Tijoux-©.Mário Pires

Photo: Mário Pires

The London Latin Music Festival, La Linea, will return in April 2018 with an eclectic line-up of artists

The first acts set to perform at London’s La Linea Festival, the London Latin music event which runs for ten days at the end of April, include Buena Vista Social Club frontman Eliades Ochoa, French-Chilean musician Ana Tijoux (pictured) and legendary Senegalese dance group Orchestra Baobab.

Since its inception in 2001, the festival has shone a spotlight on both emerging and established Latin acts, providing an international platform for their work. Taking place London-wide in a variety of venues including the Barbican, Electric Brixton and the Royal Albert Hall, La Linea will continue to ignite a Latin spark across the capital this April.

The first acts confirmed are:

Ariwo + Soundspecies
Eliades Ochoa
Ana Tijoux
Orchestra Baobab
La Pegatina

Click here for more information

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WOMAD Charlton Park 2017: Thursday

Posted on July 28th, 2017 in Live, Recent posts by .

Orchestra Baobab WOMAD

Photography by Tom Askew-Miller

After months of feverish excitement and anticipation, the 35th edition of WOMAD is off to a great start with Bixiga 70 and Orchestra Baobab

Kicking off proceedings in usual WOMAD tradition were the Malmesbury School Project – a group of local students who were joined by Sheelanagig on the Open Air Stage.

Following this, it was a quick dash over to the Big Red Tent to catch São Paulo big band Bixiga 70 who put on a terrific show. Their high-energy, big, bold brass sound went down a storm with the enthusiastic crowd clearly eager to get into festival party mode. It didn’t take long before they were doing a Brazilian style conga around the packed tent. Bixiga’s funky, highly danceable version of Afrobeat has a very particular Brazilian flavour to it, augmented by a superb duo of percussionists who almost stole the show with a blistering solo. The ten-piece band graciously gave fellow Brazilian group Metá Metá a plug – they’ll be performing later on today in the Big Red Tent.

An altogether more laid-back but charming performance from the Senegalese veterans Orchestra Baobab – the ideal mellow Thursday night closer.

Orchestra Baobab WOMAD

Things crank up considerably on Friday with a ridiculously full-on programme. Top of the list to check out are this month’s Songlines coverstar, Alsarah, who will be performing with her band the Nubatones on the Ecotricity stage. Unfortunately roots reggae group Inna de Yard were unable to secure visas in time for their performance on Friday, but their spot will be deftly filled by the ever-excellent Dele Sosimi.

Here’s hoping the weather behaves…

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A Beginner’s Guide to Orchestra Baobab

Posted on July 6th, 2017 in Features, Recent posts by .

Orchestra Baobab

Orchestra Baobab photo by Youri Lenquette

Garth Cartwright marvels at the long-lasting appeal of the Senegalese band

This article originally appeared in Songlines #126. To find out more about subscribing to Songlines, please visit:

A simple, repetitive figure is picked on an electric guitar; it’s a serpentine sound and one of the most seductive in African music. Someone whistles enthusiastically, the drummer announces his arrival and the bass quietly slips in before a fat, juicy saxophone begins painting a picture of a tropical night sky. Then a voice, sleepy yet radiant, starts speak-singing. This is ‘Utrus Horas’, the opening tune on Pirates Choice, eight minutes and 43 seconds of stirring aural delight and a song that, over the past 35 years, has enchanted listeners across the world. ‘Utrus Horas’ is one of those recordings that sounds so distinctive, so evocative, it instantly conjures up images of West Africa as a land of sensual, elegiac pleasures. And the band who created this velvet smooth music of surprise and enchantment are Orchestra Baobab, an outfit who formed in Dakar, Senegal, in 1970 and who are about to release a fine new album.

Not that the Orchestra Baobab story is quite that simple. The original band came together around saxophonist Baro N’Diaye simply to play a Saturday night residency at the Baobab Club, a new Dakar club named after the famously squat West African tree. Baro poached five musicians from the Star Band – then Dakar’s most popular club band – and, with a couple of other young players, created a set that relied on both Cuban standards (Cuban dance music having gained great popularity in West Africa), alongside an infusion of West African music, encouraged by the independence movement in neighbouring Guinea for local artistry.

Baobab’s musicians found themselves creating an effortless blend of Latin and African music, and by bringing in musicians from different tribal regions they featured both Mandinka and Wolof singers who, throughout the 70s, established themselves as Senegal’s most popular band. Their fluid lineup saw a variety of musicians come and go until the core of the band was established by the late 70s: vocalists Ndiouga Dieng (a Wolof griot), Balla Sidibe and Thione Seck; saxophonist Issa Cissoko and guitarist Barthélémy Attisso from Togo.

While Baobab’s line-up continued to fluctuate – being working musicians, members would leave to join other bands or pursue different projects – their popularity remained strong and the band’s distinctive saxophone and guitar sound marked them out as something special. So much so that in 1978, they travelled to France in search of European stardom. While they enjoyed some prowess in Paris – including being hired to play at the wedding of fashion designer Pierre Cardin’s daughter – this adventure turned out to be unprofitable and the band returned to Dakar in 1979.

By now the Baobab club had closed but the band were so popular they could perform all over Senegal, commanding fees of US $4,500 a show. They regularly recorded and released cassettes and it was a 1982 cassette, soon to be known internationally as Pirates Choice, that featured the six songs that would establish Orchestra Baobab internationally. Ironically, as these songs began winning them fans in Paris and London, Orchestra Baobab were being overtaken in Senegal by a young musician who had left the Star Band to go solo: Youssou N’Dour. His more percussive, funk-influenced sound appealed to the young and Baobab desperately tried to keep up by changing their sound – even hiring two female vocalists at one point.

Yet it was not to be and, in 1987, Orchestra Baobab called it a day. By then Thione Seck had left the band and established himself as one of Senegal’s most popular solo artists while Attisso left music to set up a law practice. When the British label World Circuit released Pirates Choice in 1989, Charlie Gillett and John Peel championed Baobab on their radio shows. In 2001 World Circuit reissued it as a double CD and such was the acclaim that greeted this edition that the band’s core members, all now middle aged and settled down, agreed to reform for a European tour.

Their triumphant return to London’s Barbican Centre in May 2001 launched them onto the Western world music festival and tour circuit. Yet unlike their Parisian experience in 1978, Baobab now found large audiences cheering them across the world. They returned to the studio in 2002, releasing Specialist in All Styles album, which won two BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music. Ironically, in Senegal Orchestra Baobab are now deemed old-fashioned but they continue to command a wide international following.

This month sees the band release a new album, Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng, in honour of one of their long-standing original vocalists who died in November 2016. For several years Dieng’s son Alpha had been a member of the band, following the griot tradition of father teaching son the techniques needed to be a master vocalist.

Ironically veteran guitarist Barthélémy Attisso has chosen to sit this one out and focus on his law firm so the band have drafted in kora player Abdouleye Cissoko from the Casamance region in southern Senegal – the first time the group have numbered a kora player in its permanent ranks but Cissoko’s rippling strings have blended seamlessly into the sound and lent a fresh dynamic. There’s also a trombonist, Wilfred Zinzou, another first for Baobab.

It is this willingness to consistently push their lush yet imaginative sound forward that stops Orchestra Baobab simply existing as a nostalgia act.


heart-of-the-moonPirates Choice (World Circuit, 2001)

These seminal 1982 recordings are remastered here with six extra tracks (also excellent) and sleeve notes by the late, great Charlie Gillett. Perfection!






boulevard-de-lindependanceSpecialist in All Styles (World Circuit, 2002)

Having reformed and toured widely, a rejuvenated Orchestra Baobab entered the studio and proved they were way more than a nostalgia act. A strong return that shows the band sounding like they’d never been away. A Top of the World review in #14.




the-mande-variationsMade in Dakar (World Circuit, 2007)

A delightful mix of new compositions with some classic hits from their 70s heyday, the band sound better than ever. The Songlines review described them as ‘the Senegalese Skatalites’ in #47.





ali-toumaniLa Belle Époque (Syllart, 2009)

For fans of Pirates Choice and more recent efforts, this double CD of their early stuff shows a nightclub band developing their distinctive blend of African and Latin music. Not as polished as their more famous releases but still very tasty. Reviewed in #62.





toumani-sidikiTribute to Ndiouga Dieng (World Circuit, 2017)

This album features few of the original members – although Thione Seck returns to sing on one song for the first time in decades while disciple Cheikh Lô also drops by – and thus features a younger line-up pushing forth a classic yet not imitative sound. An inspired effort. Reviewed in #127.




toumani-sidikiMahmoud Ahmed, Éthiopiques Vol 6: Almaz (Buda Musique, 1999)

TAs with Pirates Choice, the release of this album blew minds when released by Buda and won Mahmoud Ahmed a wide following across the West. The album offers a north-east African hybrid akin to Baobab’s in its use of Latin and soul flavours while sounding even more exotic and eerie.



This article originally appeared in Songlines #126. To find out more about subscribing to Songlines, please visit:

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Top of the World albums: Songlines #127 (May 2017)

Posted on April 5th, 2017 in Features, Recent posts by .

Here is our selection of the top ten new releases reviewed in the May issue of Songlines. Tracks from each of these albums are included on the free cover-CD with issue #127.

To buy the new issue or to find out more about subscribing to Songlines, please visit:



Orchestra Baobab
Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng
World Circuit
This heartfelt dedication to the group’s original vocalist is packed with familiar Afro-Cuban rhythms and lyrical brass arrangements, with a new prominent place given to the kora.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Los Hijos de la Montaña
Los Hijos de la Montaña
Vacilando 68
From New Age soundscapes to Latino mock-goth, this Tex-Mex band has twangy guitars, old-school synths, blasts of brass and saloon-bar piano.



Ibibio Sound Machine
Merge Records
A catchy opening number with an eerie, futuristic synth motif. This is a fiercely funky second album full of confidence and swagger, fronted by British-Nigerian vocalist Eno Williams.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



An Anthology of Mongolian Khöömii
Buda Musique
Ethnomusicologist Johanni Curtet has delved into the archive of Mongolian Radio from 1954-2016 to explore the development of khöömii (throat singing) in all its diverse variations.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Siobhan Miller
Songprint Recordings
An upbeat opener to an enchanting second album of mostly new arrangements of traditional songs, expertly played and with the purity of Miller’s voice shining through.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Glitterbeat Records 
It’s hard to believe that there are many bands in contemporary Western rock music who could shake your bones harder than these Touareg rockers.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Tunde Jegede & Derek Gripper
Mali in Oak
Globe Music
This joint composition showcases the collaborative magic produced by these two musicians. A special communion between exceptional players.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



The Hot 8 Brass Band 
On the Spot
Tru Thoughts
A joyously fresh-sounding fifth album, full of greasy street-funk grooves as well as hints towards a softer side. Hard times have not hindered New Orleans’ hardest working brass band.
Amazon | iTunes



Jaune Toujours
Choux de Bruxelles
Sounding as fresh as when they first started, this 20th anniversary double CD includes previously unreleased live and demo tracks from the Brussels-based, guitar-less band.



Baluji Shrivastav
Best of Baluji Shrivastav
ARC Music
Indian classical music remains at the core of this compilation from multi-instrumentalist Baluji Shrivastav OBE.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify

Pick up the May issue of Songlines to enjoy our Top of the World cover-CD, which contains tracks from each of the albums above. To find out more about subscribing to Songlines, visit:

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