July 19, 2016
Mamadou Barry & Afro Groove Gang | Tankadi
LABEL: Label Bleu
Saxophonist Mamadou Barry is one of those West African golden age musicians who keeps going like the Energizer bunny. He’s best known for Kaloum Star, a jazzy, hard-driving, criminally under-appreciated band that he founded in Conakry in 1969. He’s also worked with the female orchestra Les Amazones De Guinee and briefly with the granddaddy of Guinee’s national orchestras, Bembeya Jazz. With little fanfare he released his debut solo album in 2009 and here’s its excellent follow-up. This band is a bit more mannered than Kaloum Star, which was thrilling in the way it sounded like it could run off the rails at any time; the playing here is solid, with strong jazz and R&B influences. Track 1 kicks things off in a cool Afro-funk vein; 2 and 4 marry classic Bembeya-style grooves with pop-slap bass flourishes and some tasty sax and flute playing. The Afro Groove Gang is as fluent in salsa Senegalaise as in funk and jazz – 5 sounds like an unknown track from the Orchestra Baobab catalog. And 8 is West African neo-traditional music played straight, without the Western flavorings. This album kept a smile on my face from beginning to end.
TOP TRACKS: 1 2 4 5 8
ALSO RECOMMENDED: 3 6 7 10 11