419

Madilu System, Vieux Farka Toure, Orchestra Baobab

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Three ripe and fragrant albums taking in the modern and the post-modern, the venerable and the cutting edge. La Bonne Humeur is the last sonic will and testament of Congolese soukous star Madilu System, who passed shortly after recording it. Remixed: UFOs Over Bamako is a re-interpretation of tracks from the 2007 debut album by Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Toure, son of Ali. Made In Dakar is Senegalese band Orchestra Baobab's elegant follow-up to their comeback album Specialist In All Styles (World Circuit, 2002).

Madilu System
La Bonne Humeur
Sterns Music
2007



Built to the same impressive physical proportions as the late Luciano Pavarotti, the Congolese rumba and soukous star Madilu System, who passed unexpectedly from what is thought to have been a diabetes-related illness in August 2007, bestrode central African music much like the Italian tenor bestrode opera.



Radiating beauty and good vibes through his voice and songwriting, he had been one of the best-loved personalities on the Congolese scene since the early 1980s, when—under his given name Jean Bialu Makiese—he joined the seminal rumba band T.P.O.K. Jazz, led by guitarist, singer and composer Franco.



It was Franco who gave Makiese his stage name, and his luminous high tenor shared the spotlight with Franco on many of T.P.O.K.'s biggest hits of the 1980s, including the title track from the epoch defining album Mario (Choc Choc Choc, 1985). Following Franco's passing in 1989, Makiese continued to work with T.P.O.K. until the mid 1990s, when he released his first solo album, Sans Commentaire (Sterns Music, 1994).



Lush and harmonious, packed with strong melodies and catchy hooks, La Bonne Humeur captures Makiese still at the peak of his powers, accompanied by an outstanding all-star band. The arrangements are built around the leader's voice—deeper and richer than it was back in the Franco years, but every bit as beguiling—in mesmerising call and response with a group of top-drawer back-up singers which includes fellow soukous stars Nyboma and Wuta Mayi.



Guitarists Fofo Le Collegien and Caien Madoko, working in mellifluous, in-the-tradition counterpoint, top the treble end of the mix, with vibrant horns and keyboards filling out the middle. Underneath it all, snare drum, congas, shaker and bass guitar lay down irresistible, rumba-derived grooves.



If La Bonne Humeur doesn't drive you onto the nearest dancefloor, it will certainly get you dancing in your head. A gorgeous farewell from a master of his art.

Vieux Farka Toure
Remixed: UFOs Over Bamako

Modiba
2007



Following in your father's footsteps isn't always an easy path. Comparison with an older master, while still on the threshold of your career, brings added pressure. Some scions of a royal line stumble. But others win out—one thinks of Ravi Coltrane, Femi Kuti, Jeff Buckley...and Vieux Farka Toure, son of the late Malian "desert blues" guitar master Ali Farka Toure.



On his debut album, Vieux Farka Toure (Modiba, 2007), Vieux sucessfully established his own voice, placing his chip-off-the-old-block electric guitar and songwriting in a more cosmopolitan context than his father's, one with overt references to reggae, rock and funk. The admixtures were applied lightly and organically, and the album worked because it sounded like the natural expression of a globally-attuned, 21st century, 25-year old.



While we wait for its follow-up, Remixed: UFOs Over Bamako revisits the debut album, with 11 remixes of 6 tracks, some of which Vieux has said he prefers to the originals. It is, however, a strikingly different affair, in which the loose-limbed rhythms and spacious arrangements of the source material are frequently overwhelmed by in-your-face, programmed, "tribal" drum and bass beats, and Vieux's serpentine guitar lines replaced by jazz and R&B-inflected horns.



Interestingly, and presumably intentionally, none of the remixes are of tracks which originally featured contributions from either Ali or Vieux's mentor, the kora player and bandleader Toumani Diabate.



The album is an enjoyable potpourri, even if it sometimes begs the question: when is a remix no longer a remix? DJ Center's "Sangare" so radically manipulates the original version—a raw, urgent, intensely Malian performance—that few traces remain. Late period Miles Davis trumpet, nicely played by Maurice Brown, replaces the original's guitar and flute, leaving only vocal samples for recognition. It's cool and comfortable where the original was hot and dusty. Nickodemus' remix is truer to the original, the powerful, Stax-like stabs of its added brass section enhancing the atmosphere rather than transforming it. Nickodemus' remix is likely to be one of the tracks Vieux prefers over its original version.



There are three remixes of "Ana," originally a loping, dancehall reggae-inflected skank. GOONDA's Tribal Dub adds pounding drum and bass which elbow the reggae traces aside and render the tune virtually unrecognisable. Captain Planet and Hisboyelroy up the dancehall ante by applying heavy echo to the vocals, but neither makes anything of the original's distinctive horn charts or deliciously crazy organ vamps, which must be a sackable offense.



As an addendum to Vieux Farka Toure's original statement of independence, Remixed: UFOs Over Bamako is to welcomed. Were it a literal road map to the future—which it almost certainly isn't—the welcome would be ringed with caveats.

Orchestra Baobab

Made In Dakar
World Circuit
2007



The venerable Orchestra Baobab, elegant throwbacks to the "belle epoque" of Senegalese music in the 1970s, disbanded in 1985, as local audiences increasingly turned to the rootsier, more edgy and percussive mbalax style spearheaded by singer Youssou N'Dour and Etoile De Dakar.



Happily, while Baobab's stately Afro-Cuban style may have sounded anachronistic to younger listeners in Dakar, it attracted the growing overseas audience for African music which was emerging in the mid 1980s. Pioneering world music label World Circuit released an album of early 1980s tracks titled Pirates Choice (World Circuit, 1986, re-issued with an additional disc in 1989), and in 2001, fuelled by the success of Buena Vista Social Club (World Circuit, 1997), encouraged the peak-era Baobab line-up to reform and celebrate its own legacy.



Baobab's Specialist In All Styles (World Circuit, 2002) is one of the great comeback albums of recent years. The good news is that Made In Dakar, its follow-up, delivers more of the same—a mixture of new tunes and re-arranged classic hits, performed by the same, apparently ageless, 11-piece line-up of singers and instrumentalists.



There are a few twists along the way. N'Dour, who guested on Specialist In All Styles, does so again on one track, and the overall mbalax quotient is enhanced by the greater prominence given to Thio Mbaye's insistent, whip-crack sabar drum, a defining ingredient of mbalax. One track, "Ami Kita Bay," is a rhythmic cross between mbalax and salsa. The up-tempo closer, "Colette," even takes in ska, with a convincing, out-of-Don-Drummond trombone solo from guest Jesus Ramos.



But Baobab's quintessential, sumptuously melodic vibe is unchanged—shaped by vocalists Balla Sidibe, Rudy Gomis, Ndiouga Dieng, Medoune Diallo and Assane Mboup, who share the harmonising and take turns with the songwriting and the leads; the King Curtis-meets-Sonny Rollins tenor saxophonist Issa Cissoko; and the spacey, shimmeringly tuneful riffs and solos of lead guitarist Barthelemy Attisso.



Joint winner, with La Bonne Humeur, of this month's Number One With A Mango Award.


Tracks and Personnel

La Bonne Humeur

Tracks: Melancolique; Kupanda; Aminata; Jalousie; Vincent; L'Heure C'Est L'Heure; Tonton Gigolo; Kamul Inter; Sydegi; Bruno Dika.

Personnel: Madilu System: lead vocals; Nyboma, Bandio Akalia-Bovick, Buana Nsingi Egueson, Ngumbu Buamosi Padjens, Makela Matumona Piroger, Matondo Mboma Samatoch: backing vocals; Fofo Le Collegien, Caien Madoka: rhythm guitar; Caien Madoka, Syran Mbenza, Daly Kimoko, Papa Noel: lead guitar; Flavien Makabi, Ngouma Lokito, Fiston: bass guitar; Nicolas Gueret: saxophone; Christophe Dutray: trumpet; Deba Shungu: congas; Komba Below: snare drum; Niawu: shaker; Manu Lima: keyboards and drum programming.

Remixed: UFOs Over Bamako

Tracks: Ma Hine Cocore (Yossi Fine's 3rd Bass Remix); Wosounbour (Chris Anibell Remix); Sangare (DJ Center Remix); Ana (GOONDA Tribal Dub Remix); Ana (Captain Planet Remix); Sangare (Nickodemus Remix); Dounia (Cheb I Sabbah's Africa Unite Remix); Wosoubour (Eccodek Remix); Ana (Hisboyelroy's Smooth Dub Remix); Courage (Fabian Alsultany's UFOs Over Bamako Remix); Ma Hine Cocore (Karsh Kale Remix).

Original Vieux Farka Toure Personnel: Vieux Farka Toure: electric and acoustic guitar, vocals, calabash, percussion; Ali Farka Toure: electric guitar; Toumani Diabate: kora; Issa Sory Bamba: vocals; Bassekou Kouyate: ngoni; Seckou Toure: vocals; Mamadou Fofana: bass guitar, flute; Adama Diarra: djembe; Tim Keiper: drums, percussion; Hassey Sarre: njarka; Mahamadou Kone: tama; Princesse Prisca Benita: backing vocals; Alou Coulibaly: calabash; Eric Herman: guitar, bass guitar, vocals, glockenspiel, percussion; Dave Ahl: organ, clavinet, glockenspiel; Matt Hilgenberg: trumpet; Reinhardt Schuhmann: tenor saxophone; Joe M. F. Wilson: alto saxophone.

Made In Dakar

Tracks: Papa Ndiaye; Nijaay; Beni Baraale; Ami Kita Bay; Cabral; Sibam; Aline; Ndeleng Ndeleng; Jirim; Bikowa; Colette.

Personnel: Balla Sidibe: vocals, timbales, drums; Rudy Gomis: vocals, maracas, clave; Ndiouga Dieng: vocals, congas; Medoune Diallo, Assane Mboup: vocals; Barthelemy Attisso: lead guitar, chef d'orchestre; Latfi Benjeloun: rhythm guitar; Issa Cissoko: tenor and alto saxophones; Thierne Koite: alto saxophone; Charlie Ndaye: bass; Mountaga Koite: congas, drums. Guests: Youssou N'Dour: vocals (2); Ibou Konate: trumpet; Sanou Diouf: tenor saxophone (3); Baba Nabe: rhythm guitar (3); Jesus "Aguaje" Ramos: trombone; Thio Mbaye: sabar drums; Assane Thiam: tama talking drum.


Shop

More Articles

Read Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Jama Ko African Jazz Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Jama Ko
by Chris May
Published: January 14, 2013
Read Senegal’s Orchestra Baobab and Guinea’s Authenticite Movement Show Their Roots African Jazz Senegal’s Orchestra Baobab and Guinea’s...
by Chris May
Published: February 3, 2012
Read Owiny Sigoma Band: Rising From The East African Jazz Owiny Sigoma Band: Rising From The East
by Chris May
Published: May 1, 2011
Read Compilations: Doing The Right Thing African Jazz Compilations: Doing The Right Thing
by Chris May
Published: December 5, 2010
Read The Majestic “Return” of King Sunny Ade & His African Beats African Jazz The Majestic “Return” of King Sunny Ade &...
by Chris May
Published: September 29, 2010
Read Senegal's Etoile de Dakar featuring Youssou N'Dour and south London's Yaaba Funk African Jazz Senegal's Etoile de Dakar featuring Youssou...
by Chris May
Published: June 1, 2010
Read "Ned Kelly's Last Stand, Hong Kong" Roads Less Travelled Ned Kelly's Last Stand, Hong Kong
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: April 28, 2016
Read "Tony Williams: Life Time" Extended Analysis Tony Williams: Life Time
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "Greg Lake & Keith Emerson: Their Best Work Together" Rediscovery Greg Lake & Keith Emerson: Their Best Work Together
by John Kelman
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "Take Five with Boris Savoldelli" Take Five With... Take Five with Boris Savoldelli
by boris savoldelli
Published: May 5, 2016
Read "D'Vonne Lewis: It's About the Love" Interviews D'Vonne Lewis: It's About the Love
by Paul Rauch
Published: December 22, 2016
Read "Richie Buckley With The Scott Flanigan Trio @ The Sunflower, Belfast" Live Reviews Richie Buckley With The Scott Flanigan Trio @ The...
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 19, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!