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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier

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.

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