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
Cheikh Lô has created an inspired and sensual acoustic/electric mix which embraces double bass, acoustic guitars, talking drum, flute and a hint of electric bass and keyboards. Né La Thiass, his debut recording, infuses rare mbalax rhythms with rippling tides of energy, but the mood is strikingly Latin.
Lô began working on the compositions for the album in 1991, and the next five years saw the music simmering while he sought the most favorable conditions in which to record. He wanted to record live with real musicians who understood his music. On hearing a demo of the songs, Youssou N’Dour was immediately interested in producing. A cast of Senegal’s finest was assembled with musicians from N’Dour’s Super Etoile band, including master percussionists Assane Thiam and Mbaye Dieye Faye and guitarist/arranger Oumar Sow. Recording and mixing were completed in nine days, giving the album the freshness and immediacy of a live recording.
Cheikh Lô is Baye Falle, a follower of Cheikh Ibra Fall, faithful companion to Cheikh Amadou Bamba, the visionary prophet of the Mourides Islamic Sect. In the late 19th century, Bamba rekindled the Muslim religion giving it a distinctive African pride just at the time it was being quashed by French colonizers. To this day, the Baye Fall are instantly recognizable by their patchwork clothing and dreads. The songs Cheikh composed for the album are deeply imbued with the spirit, the teachings and the social ethics of the Mourides and their prophet.
Lô was born of Senegalese parents in Burkina Faso and he grew up in a mixed community and speaks several languages. He was a music fan at an early age and a keen listener to the Zairean Latin music that was popular at the time. He taught himself to play drums and guitar and his career includes stints with various Senegalese bands, notably Ouza’s late 1970s group. From 1983 he spent several years in Paris as a session musician. He then returned to Senegal in 1990 to begin work on Né La Thiass.
Cheikh ’N’Diguel’ Lô, lead vocal, rhythm guitar, drums
Omar Sow, guitar
Mamadou ‘Jimmy’ Mbaye, guitar (3, 5)
Youssou N’Dour, vocal (6, 9)
N’Deye Marie Ndiaye, vocal
Habib Faye, bass & keyboards
Ibrahima N’Dour, keyboards (4)
Pathe Diassy, double bass
Mbaye Dieye Faye, percussion
Assane Thiam, tama (talking drum)
Thierno Kouyate, alto & tenor sax
Thomas Vahle, flute
Musical arrangements by Cheikh Lô and Omar Sow
A World Circuit presentation / A Jolloli Production
Produced by Youssou N’Dour
Recorded and mixed by Serge Devesvre and Ndiaga N’Dour at Studio Xippi
Dakar, Senegal, July 1995
Assistant: Olivier Yao Saki
Tracks 3-5 recorded and mixed by Ndiaga N’Dour
At Studio Xippi, August 1996
Mastered by Dave Bernez at The Townhouse Studios, London
All songs by Cheikh Lô
Design by K8 @ Intro
Photographs by Christien Jaspars and Lucy Duran
Senegalese paintings courtesy of Sonal& Rita Cruise O’Brien
This album is available from Nonesuch in the United States and Canada only.