I really miss not being able to watch the David Letterman Show. A few years ago, ATV (a free-to-air) local TV station broadcast David Letterman around Midnight and I would check Dave’s website to see what music acts he would feature each night. One of the finds was Orchestra Baobab. I’d never heard of the band, and quite frankly, would not have come across it at all if not for The David Letterman Show.
Orchestra Baobab, according to Wikipedia, is a Senegalese band. They were basically the house band at the Baobab Club, one of Dakar’s fanciest nightspots. The band was formed in 1970, and fused Afro-Cuban rhythm and Portuguese Creole melody with Congolese rumba, high life and a whole gamut of local styles.
Their most famous album is Pirate’s Choice, originally recorded in 1982, but only released in Europe in 1989. It was massively popular in France. The album was re-released again in 2001 as a double CD with extra tracks. With renewed interest, Orchestra Baobab recorded an album of new material – the result was Specialist In All Styles. Their performance I saw on David Letterman was a song of that album called Bul Ma Miin, and it totally convinced me to go out and get their albums.
Orchestra Baobab’s music has a very relaxed feel; the slyly intoxicating Cuban beats are embellished with extraordinary guitar work and tasteful saxophones. It is hard to describe the music, but I hear blues, jazz as well as reggae influences. Here is a clip of the band performing one of their signature tracks Utrus Horas :