Tribute To Ndiouga Dieng Orchestra Baobab World Circuit Like the distinctive tree of their moniker, Orchestra Baobab seems to have inherited impressive longevity. Established in 1970, an ensemble famed for its fusion of Cuban music and West African styles remains one of Senegal and the continent’s seminal dance bands, despite lengthy gaps between recordings.
Tribute To Ndiouga Dieng is their first release for 10 years. The album before that one — issued in 2002 — followed a 16-year hiatus. It took the passing of a much-loved member to lure them back to the studio. While the death of Ndiouga Dieng last November robbed the orchestra of one of its finest singers, there’s certainly no shortage of vocal talent on display in the album that honours his memory.
No slighting of the remaining resident vocalists or fellow long-time instrumentalists is intended, but it’s the performances of special guests and new members that illuminate the set’s standout tracks.
Cheikh Lo, who is the equal of West African heavyweights such as Youssou N’Dour, Baaba Maal and Salif Keita, lends his blissfully soulful tones to Magnokouto, which also benefits from the outstanding kora work of new chum Abdouleye Cissokho, whose expertise also embellishes a stripped-back traditional standard, Mariama.
Reunited with his old band for the first time in over 35 years, singer Thione Seck adds his equally luminous pipes to a reprise of his first hit, Sey, that also features the impressive guitar chops of band newcomer Beninois guitarist Rene Sowatche. Elsewhere, the languid hipswaying Afro-Cuban son rhythms that have long defined Orchestra Baobab’s sound still rule, with veteran players holding sway.