Orchestra Baobab

Monday 10th October, 2022

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Zaccharia Koité - Vocals / Timbales
Alpha Dieng - Vocals
Mamadou Mountaga Koite - Drums Timbales
Malick Sy - Bass
Moussa Sissokho - Congas
Yahya Fall - Guitare Rythmique
Abdoul Aziz Thioune - Guitare Solo
Wilfrid Zinsou - Saxo - Trombone
Seydou Nourou Koite - Saxo Tenor - Alto
Cheikh Ibrahima Fam- Vocals

Adored both at home in Senegal and across the world, Orchestra Baobab occupy a special place in the history of African music. Their epic story begins in the heart of Dakar’s Medina in the 1960s and extends across the world and into the 21st century, featuring a brilliant assembly of diverse musical personalities and encompassing a unique blend of Afro-Latin styles, international pop, West African griot music, and an after-dark West African nightclub ambience of lilting, mellifluous rhythms. In the 1970’s  a new fashionable venue, Club Baobab, opened its doors in Dakar’s European district. Well known as a hangout for those with status and power, the club was built around a baobab tree, and to fire up its musical roster, its well-connected owners approached singers Balla Sidibe, Rudy Gomis and guitarist Barthelemy Attisso. Bassist Charlie Ndiaye and percussionist Mountaga Koite soon followed, joined by rhythm guitarist Latfi Ben Jelloun, Nigerian clarinet player Peter Udo, and veteran griot singer Laye Mboup. 

With that, the stage was set for Orchestra Baobab to set the tempo for a new era of modern Senegalese and African music, drawing through the club’s doors a diverse urban crowd ranging from influential politicians and businessmen to army officers, celebrities and expats. Combining pop, soul, funk and traditional music from across Senegal and beyond, Orchestra Baobab quickly developed a distinctive take on a raft of styles that reflected the cultural mix and the strong musical personalities of its members.

Many years on and Baobab’s lineup has continued to evolve, with some sad departures and some exciting new additions over the past decade. Now, alongside Baobab stalwarts including founding members Balla Sidibé, bassist Charlie Ndiaye and percussionist Mountaga Koité, there’s new rhythm guitarist Yahya Fall (a veteran of the Dakar music scene) and Beninese lead guitarist Rene Sowatche (the most prominent of the many young West African musicians flocking to Dakar for its burgeoning live scene). The horn section now features Benin-born Wilfred Zinzou - a player new to Baobab, but not to Dakar – Senegal’s sole trombonist has long played with Cheikh Lô, and has been a music scene fixture for many years. Amongst the vocalists is Ndiouga Dieng’s son Alpha, who continues the griot tradition in spectacular form.

Celebrating 50 years as one of Africa’s greatest bands – one whose popularity has taken them around the world – is an achievement few can equal.

Presented by Selective Memory

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