News & Reviews
- Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Dr. John, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Cheikh Lô Make "Joyous, Colorful" Music at New Orleans Jazz Fest (Times-Picayune)
The 2012 New Orleans Jazz Fest got under way last weekend. Carolina Chocolate Drops gave "a joyous, emotionally committed show," reports the Times-Picayune, which calls Cheikh Lô's set "as colorful and unique as his signature patchwork tunic," and notes that Dr. John sounded "newly invigorated" as on his new album, Locked Down. He also joined Bruce Springsteen on stage to help close the first weekend in style. This coming weekend sees Dr. John's return and a set from another favorite son of New Orleans, Allen Toussaint.
- Friday, April 27, 2012
New Orleans Jazz Fest Kicks Off, Includes Sets from Dr. John, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Cheikh Lô, Allen Toussaint
The 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, better known as Jazz Fest, gets under way today and runs through this weekend and the next at the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans. Among the performers set to take the various stage at the festival this year are four artists familiar to readers of the Nonesuch Journal: two New Orleans legends and hometown heroes, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint, plus two artists whose unique musical styles will make them feel right at home at Jazz Fest, Carolina Chocolate Drops and Cheikh Lô.
About this Album
Bambay Gueej (Bamba, Ocean of Peace) is Cheikh Lô’s follow up to his highly acclaimed 1996 debut album Ne La Thiass. The nine new tracks on this recording were co-produced by Nick Gold and Youssou N’Dour and were recorded at N’Dour’s Xippi Studio in Dakar, with additional recording in Havana and London.This album finds Cheikh Lô in an even sweeter voice, with his Dakar-based "N’Diguel" band augmented by very special guests Richard Egües (flute), Pee Wee Ellis (horns), Oumou Sangare (vocals), and Bigga Morrison (Hammond organ). Adding to the rippling Senegalese m’balax rhythms, felicitous Latin inflections, and spiritual intensity of his debut, Cheikh Lô draws on sounds from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Congo and adds influences from Cuba, subtle reggae and blasting African funk into the mix.
Pee Wee Ellis, erstwhile James Brown horn arranger and saxophonist during the Heavy Funk period of Cold Sweat and musical director for Van Morrison, fell in love with Lô’s music on first hearing. To Lô, who grew up listening to the sounds of James Brown, the arrival of Pee Wee at the Dakar sessions was akin to a homecoming. Ellis’s arrangements, in particular on the title track "Bambay Gueej" (which includes the groove-driven Hammond organ of Aswad’s Bigga Morrison, and a spontaneous vocal tribute to Fela Kuti), add a new dimension to the mix.
Lô was nurtured on Cuban music, and he names Richard Egües, for years the mainstay of the Orquesta Aragón, as his favorite musician. Egües, in his 80s during the recording of this record, gives a performance on "M’Beddemi" that was a dream come true for Lô. The Cuban connection is also present on "Jeunesse Senegal" with its spectacular Havana trumpet section featuring members of the Afro-Cuban All Stars.
Lô heard Malian diva Oumou Sangare through their mutual label, World Circuit. They first met at the 1997 Kora Awards in South Africa, where Lô was named Best Newcomer. When he penned "Bobo-Dioulasso," sung in Bambara and dedicated to his hometown in Burkina Faso, Lô immediately thought of her for this atmospheric duet.
Lô is a very spiritual man and the album is dedicated to Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba, the founder of Senegal’s main Muslim brotherhood, Mouridism. The final track, "Zikr," with backing vocals from N’Dour, is a lilting, lyrical adaptation of a traditional chant of the Baye Fall, a branch of Mouridism that Lô follows.
Lô is featured not only as lead vocal, but also on rhythm guitar, drums, and percussion, and his band retains the core of musicians from his first album: Oumar Sow (guitar), Pathé Jassy (bass guitar), Samba N’Dokh M’Baye (tama -talking drum), Thio M’Baye (percussion and Sabar drums), Thierno Kouyate (alto and tenor saxophones), and Badou N’Diaye (drums on "Bamba Gueej"). Members of N’Dour’s Super Étoile, Babacar Faye (percussion) and Habib Faye (bass, acoustic guitar), make additional contributions.
Cheikh N’Digël Lô, lead vocal, rhythm guitar, drums, percussion
Oumar Sow, guitars
Pathé Jassy, bass
Samba N’Dokh M’Baye, tama [talking drum]
Thio M’Baye, percussion (4, 5, 6)
Babacar Faye, percussion (2, 3, 8)
Thierno Kouyate, alto and tenor saxophones
Habib Faye, bass and acoustic guitar (5)
Badou N’Diaye, drums (4)
Pee Wee Ellis, horn arrangements, tenor and baritone saxophones, Hammond organ (7)
Raul D’Oliveira, trumpet
Joe de Jesus, trombone
Daniel Ramos, Yanko Pisaco, Yaure Muñiz, trumpets (“Jeunesse Senegal”) arranged by Juan de Marcos González
Williams Cumberbache, congas (1)
Carlos Gonzalez, bongos (7)
Richard Egües, flute (1)
Bigga Morrison, Hammond organ (4, 6)
Oumou Sangare, vocal (7)
A Jololi / World Circuit Production
Produced by Nick Gold and Youssou N’Dour
Recorded and mixed by Jerry Boys
Assistant recording engineers: Simon Burwell and N’Diaga N’Dour
Assistant mix engineer: Simon Burwell
Recorded at Jololi Studios, Dakar, Senegal
Mixed at Livingston Recording Studios, London
Mastered by Jerry Boys and Tom Leader
All songs by Cheikh N’Digël Lô, except tracks 4 also by Oumar Sow, 5 also by Habib Faye, 8 also by Henri Guillabert; track 1 by Guillermo Portabales, track 9 traditional, arranged by Cheikh N’Digël Lô
Cover photo by Galilea Nin
Design by John Heiden and Barrie Goshko for SMOG
This album is available from Nonesuch in the United States and Canada only.