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First London show in three years for Senegal’s mighty Orchestra Baobab. One of Africa’s supergroups, Orchestra Baobab came together in 1970, taking their name from the Dakar night-club where they were resident for most of the following decade. Distinguished from the outset by their multi-ethnic membership, drawing in musicians from all over Senegal as well as Togo and Nigeria, their music was broad and multi-lingual, but with a strong Cuban flavour.
‘Able to leap from Afro-Cuban dance tunes to griotsongs and Congolese pop, the band members are a walking compendium of West African music, saxophones and guitars rocking in rhythm over sinuous percussion.’ The Times
Baobab kickstarted a musical renaissance in their native Senegal, which turned the capital Dakar into one of the world’s most vibrant musical cities. They produced more hits in less than a decade than other bands in a lifetime. While Baobab found themselves sidelined by the musical revolution they helped create and subsequently disbanded in 1985, a huge groundswell of international interest led to their triumphant reformation in 2001. Orchestra Baobab are still very much in business today.
‘When I arrived in Senegal in 1968, there was only Cuban music,’ says Orchestra Baobab’s Togolese guitarist Barthélemy Attisso. ‘Back home, we were listening to Nigerian high life and Congolese guitar music, but if you walked past a club in Dakar, you would swear there were Cubans playing inside. Yet they were all Senegalese!’
‘Orchestra Baobab… are masters of an urban style that pairs rippling, fast-flowing guitar lines with impassioned vocals and sophisticated dance rhythms.’ The Guardian