SENEGAL 70-SONIC GEMS AND PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED GEMS FROM THE 70S VINYL EDITION.

SENEGAL 70-SONIC GEMS AND PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED GEMS FROM THE 70S VINYL EDITION.

For their first release of 2016, Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s, Analog Africa return to what was the musical capital of West Africa, Senegal. It had one of the most vibrant musical scenes in West Africa. That had been the case since the sixties. However, Senegal’s proud and eclectic musical heritage can be traced back to the late forties. 

That was when American and Cuban sailors came bearing musical gifts. The American sailors brought with them jazz from New Orleans. Cuban sailors brought Son Montuno and Patchanga music. All this music was embraced in the major Senegalese cities, and quickly found an audience within the local music scene. 

Soon, Caribbean music was providing the soundtrack to many clubs in Senegal. Before long, the locals had embraced this vibrant, exotic sound. The next stop was to combine Son Montuno and Patchanga with their own music.

Soon, Caribbean music was being combined with West African and Latin music. The result was a unique and unlike musical fusion, where the music of three continents combined. This new  unique sound was quickly embraced by local musicians and producers.

Records were recorded, and the top bands became hot property. Club owners wanted the best bands to play at their clubs. This included Ibra Kassé, who also owned the Miami nightclub in Dakar. His club would at the heart of this new scene as it exploded into life. 

Across Senegal,  bands were being formed and ballroom parties were being thrown. However, the country’s capital Dakar, was where the best musicians gravitated. That was just as well.

In Dakar, there were hardly enough local musicians to fulfil the demand. So musicians were coming from much further afield. This included Amara Touré, a percussionist and singer from Guinea-Conakry.

Amara Touré was discovered by Ibra Kassé, owner of Dakar’s Miami nightclbub. He he was accompanying Dexter Johnson on tour. That was where Ibra Kassé first heard Amara Touré he realised the young percussionist and singer had potential, and  was destined for greater things. So Ibra Kassé asked Amara Touré of he wanted to become part of a new band he was putting together in Dakar. It didn’t take Amara Touré long to agree. What he didn’t realise, was that this new band would change Senegalese music forever.

That band was Le Star Band de Dakar. It would become one of the most important bands in the history of modern Senegalese music. They played an important part to Senegal’s musical soundtrack during the sixties and seventies. Especially with Amara Touré at the helm. One of the twelve tracks on Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s, El Carretero, features the potent partnership of Amara Touré et Le Star Band de Dakar. By then, Senegal’s had one of the most vibrant musical scenes in West Africa.

That had been the case since the sixties. Bands were fusing everything from Afro-beat, blues, funk, jazz, Mbalax, R&B, soul, Son Montuno from Cuba and the inimitable Mandigue guitar sound. This potent fusion provided the soundtrack to many a night out in towns and cities across Senegal. However, none of the twelve tracks on Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s which will be released on vinyl by Analog Africa on 11th March 2016, were part of the soundtrack.

The twelve tracks on Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s have lain unreleased for forty years. However, the story behind the compilation started six years ago in 2009.     

That’s when Adamantios Kafetzis made the journey from Senegal to Greece in search of a new tape recorder. The former owner of the famous Sangomar club in Thiés, had a pile of reel-to-reel tapes he wanted to digitise. To do that, he needed a new tape recorder. So he made the journey to Greece, to find the much needed tape recorder. 

Having eventually found a new tape recorder Adamantios Kafetzis was ready to return home. He was eager to return home, so he could begin to digitise his collection of tapes. This was going to take time.

Back home in Thiés, Adamantios Kafetzis had four decades worth of reel-to-reel tapes.  They had been recorded at the Sangomar club by sound engineer Moussa Diallo. Luckily, Adamantios Kafetzis was a patient man. His patience was rewarded when he discovered 300 songs that had never been heard before. Adamantios Kafetzis had struck gold, and five of these songs eventually, made their way onto Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s.

Compiling Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s took Samy Ben Redjeb four years. During that period, he worked with Teranga Beat, who currently, are the leading Senegalese record label. Aided and abetted by the Teranga Beat, Samy Ben Redjeb set about compiling a compilation that will transport the listener to Senegal during the seventies. The twelve tracks give the listener a flavour of the hot, heady nights in towns and cities across Senegal. This they can do, without leaving their home. Instead, all they need to do, is press play, on Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s, and instantly, they’re transported to Senegal in the seventies.

The listener is privileged to hear songs from Le Sahel, Orchestre Laye Thiam, Number One de Dakar, Orchestra Baobab and Dieuf Dieul de Thies and Xalam1. These bands and orchestras combined a mixture of traditional and modern instruments. From Senegal’s musical past, came the traditional percussive sound of the Sabra, Tama and Bougarabou. They were combined with a myriad of organs, keyboards and often, guitars. The result was a musical hybrid, which crossed not just generations, but centuries. Here was music that gave a nod to the past, including Senegalese folklore, the present, and given the experimental sound of some of the songs, the future. It was no wonder that this music was embraced by Senegalese youth. In one fell swoop, Cuban music was dethroned as the favoured sound amongst the Senegalese youth, who were being exposed to a much more eclectic selection of music.

It wasn’t just local artists who were finding an audience amongst the Senegalese youth. American, European and music from other African countries was finding its way into Senegal. Often, sailors brought the latest releases back from their travels. However, the Senegalese President was a man with a “vision.”

Unlike many of his counterparts across Africa, the Senegalese President’s plan neither involved five year plans nor nuclear weapons. Instead, President Senghor wanted Senegal to attract the biggest names in music. He was successful, to a degree. James Brown and The Jackson Five arrived from America. However, whether they can be regarded as the creme de la creme of international or even American music is debatable? After this, Cuban singer Celia Cruz and Haitian star Tabou Combo made their way to Senegal. For President Senghor this was good publicity for his regime. So was the arrival of some of the biggest names in African music.

From the Congo,Tabu Ley Rochereau arrived. So did Manu Dibango from Cameroon and Bembeya Jazz from Guinée. These stars of African music not only played in Senegalese cities, but were happy to play alongside local musicians.  All these visiting musicians were influencing the local musicians, including some of the bands that featured on Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s.

The best way to describe Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s, which is Analog Africa’s nineteenth release, is eclectic. The compilation has been four years in the waiting. That has been four years in the waiting. This becomes apparent on the opening track.

That’s Fangool’s Mariama, which opens Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s. It’s something of a slow-burner, which has an almost spiritual quality to the vocal. Horns and a Hammond organ lock into a groove with percussion, as the track takes on a mesmeric sound. Then when the vocal returns, it’s truly heartfelt and hauntingly beautiful. One wonders how Samy Ben Redjeb will surpass Mariama?

Orchestre G.M.I then burst into life on Africa, a track that’s

funky, jazz-tinged and dance—floor friendly. It’s also joyous and up-lifting. Resistance is impossible. Best just submit to Africa’s charms. After this, a series of curveballs are thrown.

The first is Orchestre Bawobab’s Thiely, which has a much more understated, traditional sound. It’s just the vocal, percussion, guitar and dusty, braying horns. They respond to the soulful, impassioned vocal’s call. Thiely is proof that sometimes, less is more.

Le Sourouba De Louga haven’t just been influenced by Senegalese music, but funk and occasionally rock. That quickly becomes on Bour Sine, as they sing call and response, against an almost funky, hypnotic arrangement. Later, it features a blistering, rocky guitar solo, that tries to conjure up the spirit of Hendrix, as the music of two continents collide.

Further proof that less is more comes on King N´gom Viva Marvillas. The vocals dominate the arrangement, with percussion and guitars playing a supporting role on a  track that more than hints at Senegal’s musical past.

That’s the case with Orchestre Laye Thiam, as they burst into life Massani Cicé. However, they add a healthy pinch of funk to this fusion of Afr0beat and  jazz. It unfolds in mesmeric waves, that wash over the listener. Horns and a Hammond organ play starring roles on what’s another of the highlights of Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s.

That’s the case with Orchestre Laye Thiam, as they burst into life Massani Cicé. However, they add a healthy pinch of funk to the jazz-tinged arrangement. It unfolds in mesmeric waves, that wash over the listener. Horns and a Hammond organ play starring roles on what’s another of the highlights of Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s.

Two of the stars of Senegalese music feature on El Carretero, Amara Touré et Le Star Band de Dakar. Together, they play their part in a melodic, sultry and heart wrenching ballad. It’s a real find. So is the bustling, joyous sound of Le Tropical Jazz on  the uptempo Kiko Medina. Following hard on its heels is Orchestre Laye Thiam’s Kokoriko. This is another irresistible call to dance. Propelled along by a myriad of percussive and a vocal that’s obviously been influenced by James Brown, it’s a potent mix that’s guaranteed to put a smile on even the saddest face. By then, Samy Ben Redjeb keeps pulling musical rabbits out of his hat? However, can he keep this up?

He can. Gestu De Dakar’s Ndiourel’s is up-lifting, joyful, good-time music. Propelled along my percussion, guitars and one of the best vocals on Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s, Ndiourel is another hidden gem that

Samy Ben Redjeb has discovered. 

Ma Penda is the second contribution from Orchestre Bawobab. Their previous contribution Thiely, had a quite traditional sound. To some extent, so does Ma Penda. Other times, the music that was arriving from America and Europe affects the arrangement. This includes an effects laden guitar. It’s provides a contrast to the heartfelt, emotive vocal, shrill horns and futuristic keyboards. They exit stage left when the galloping arrangement is stripped bare. Percussion takes centre-stage, before a stunning, virtuoso scorching guitar solo steals the show. Breathtaking describes a performance singlehandedly transforms the song.

Orchestre Laye Thiam’s Sanga Té closes Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s. It has an understated, wistful sound that meanders along. Genres melt into one. Listen carefully, and elements of blues, Cuban, jazz, funk and soul can be heard on what’s a quite beautiful, melancholy song, proving a perfect way to close Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s.

So that’s the story of Analog Africa’s nineteenth release, proving a perfect way to close Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s. It’s taken four years to compile, but this has been four years well spent. The twelve hidden gems on Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s have lain unreleased for far too long. 

That not always the case when an albums comes bearing the words unreleased recordings. Often, they’re tracks that were never meant to be released. They’re either demos or outtakes, and the artists would be embarrassed that they’re seeing the light of day. However, that’s definitely not the case with Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s. 

Analog Africa have struck Senegalese gold, on these twelve glittering gems. They deserve to be heard by a much wider audience, and show how eclectic, Senegal’s vibrant music scene was during the seventies. It had been influenced by everything from Afro-beat, blues, funk, jazz, Mbalax, R&B, soul, Son Montuno from Cuba and the inimitable Mandigue guitar sound. That’s apparent on Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s, which will be released on vinyl by Analog Africa on 11th March 2016.

Whether you choose the vinyl or CD version of Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s is a matter of personal preference. Some genres are better suited to vinyl. While the vinyl sounds good, the CD seems to have an edge quality wise. It allows you to hear some hidden gems from some of the biggest names in Senegalese music. 

There was no bigger names than Amara Touré et Le Star Band de Dakar. They became one of the most important bands in the history of modern Senegalese music. Especially with Amara Touré at the helm. Like everything, this relationship came to an end, and Amara Touré went off to form his own band. By then, Amara Touré et Le Star Band de Dakar had played an important part of the soundtrack to Senegal during the seventies. That’s the case with many of the bands on Senegal 70 Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased Recordings From The 70s, which was the most exciting and vibrant period during Senegal’s modern musical history. 

SENEGAL 70-SONIC GEMS AND PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED GEMS FROM THE 70S VINYL EDITION.

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