Tuesday, 9 May 2017

On Stage: Orchestra Baobab @ Melkweg



A few weeks ago I wrote a review for Orchestra Baobab's new album for FestivalInfo, which you can read over here (in Dutch). The beautiful record is a worthy addition to the impressive career of the band from Senegal. Best of all, they were visiting my home town!

Orchestra Baobab at Melkweg Amsterdam, May 6 2017



When the nine members of the band walk on the stage, loud cheers sound. It's been a long time since the band visited our country and ten years since the previous record. It is obvious their fans are happy to see them again. In the meantime they lost their singer Ndiouga Dieng and dedicated the new LP to him. His son Alpha Dieng is now sharing lead vocals with veteran and timbales player Balla Sidibe. Guitarist BarthélémyAttisso left the band and was replaced with kora player Abdoulaye Cissoko, which works very well as we get to experience tonight. The kora broadens their sound even more and his presence adds extra energy to the stage where the kora is an attraction by itself.



It is incredible how the band is able to keep the songs modest with so many skilled and talented people on stage. But everyone knows exactly what the songs need and won't play unnecessary notes. Every musician can grab their moment to shine. Tenor sax player Issa Cissokho knows how to entertain the crowd, making contact with the people in front of the stage and goofing around a bit. Together with the modest alt sax player Thierno Koité they add sparkling accents and energetic solo's.



I was especially impressed with young guitarist René Sowatche, who is scattering virtuoso solos and melodies around like candy. The Afro-Cuban and traditional African music turns the venue into a dancing party where most of the people are moving to the melancholic and sunny melodies. Today spring returned to our country and I think this wonderful band has something to do with that, bringing sunshine where ever they go.



All Pictures

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