January 15, 2015
Baba Commandant & The Mandingo Band | Juguya
LABEL: Sublime Frequencies
The Sublime Frequencies label is best known for its audio verite recordings and for reissues from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Recently they’ve dipped their toe into releasing studio recordings of current artists, most famously Omar Souleyman. Now they have another winner in Baba Commandant & The Mandingo Band from Burkina Faso in West Africa. They’re a soulful, gritty, funky band, playing a variety of local rhythms with the forward thrust of Afrobeat and the attitude of rock ‘n’ roll. Baba Commandant has a gravelly voice that growls and moans like Howlin’ Wolf or Moussa Doumbia (the James Brown of Mali); his donso ngoni (West African hunters’ harp) playing provides the harmonic center for stinging guitar and saxophone solos that occasionally spiral out into space like free jazz and are brought back to earth by an in-the-pocket rhythm section of bass guitar and drum kit. Is this folk music, pop or jazz? Yes, it’s all of the above and then some. The recording is basic and spends more time in the red than a pro might recommend – it sounds just like they must sound in a sweaty little nightclub. This is the real sound of Africa today – don’t miss it.
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