Orchestra Baobab

Orchestra Baobab

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Orchestra Baobab

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Orchestra Baobab is a Senegalese Afro-Cuban, Son, Wolof and Pachanga band. Organized in 1970, as a multi-ethnic, multi-national club band, Orchestre Baobab adapted the then current craze for Cuban Music (growing out of the Congolese Soukous style) in West Africa to Wolof Griot culture and the Mandinga musical traditions of the Casamance. One of the dominant African bands of the 1970s, they were overshadowed in the 1980s and broke up, only to reform in 2001 after interest in their recordings grew in Europe.

Formation: 1970

Many of the original members were veterans of the famous Star Band, whose alumni later included the Étoile de Dakar, El Hadji Faye and Youssou N’Dour. Star Band were the resident band of the upscale Dakar Miami Club. So when the Baobab Club opened in Dakar in 1970, six players, led by saxophonist Baro N'Diaye, were lured from Star Band and the Orchestra Baobab were born. The club in turn is named for the baobab (Adansonia) tree.

The original frontmen of the band were the Casamance singers Balla Sidibe and Rudy Gomis who came from the melting pot of Casamance musical styles, and most famously Laye Mboup (killed in a 1974 car accident) who provided vocals in the Wolof griot style. His Wolof language lyrics and his soaring, nasal voice defined the sound of Baobab's early hits.

Barthelemy Attisso from Togo was a law student in Dakar, and a self taught musician, whose arpeggiated runs became instantly recognizable. With the saxophone of N'Diaye, this was the...
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