12/07/2019: “Pape Ndiaye” by Orchestra Baobab

Orchestra Baobab are one of the most successful bands to come out of Senegal. Combining Senegalese sounds with Afro-Cuban music, they achieved a lot of fame within West Africa more generally.

The name of the band is because they were the house band of the Baobab Club in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, which was in turn named after the baobab tree.

“Pape Ndiaye” makes the Cuban influence very strongly felt. The rhythms come across as being Latin in flavour rather than African, and the guitar is similarly quite Cuban in tone.

What definitely feels more African is the singing. Not only the language, but also the style, that classic call and response chorus.

It’s hard to place the horn section in either Latin America or Africa, because both countries make heavy use of brass. There’s some great sax playing in this song, creating a joyous vibe.

“Pape Ndiaye” was released in 2007. That accounts for the crisp sound so often lacking in 70s African music. As far as I can tell the song hasn’t been released before, which shows the continuing creativity of this band!