... and his success as a "world music" star speaks for itself, but I for one preferred the musical substance of Baaba Maal's much earlier CDs like 'Lam Toro' and 'Wango' from the 1990s. Then he was firmly engaged with the musical forms and traditions of Senegal, particularly of the Fulani, his own people, whose language he sings. This CD and most of his more recent performances are too generically African 'world beat' for my ears. So my three-star rating is totally personal, just my own taste.
Born in 1953, Baaba Maal has had an interesting life and is entitled to some success by going his own way. He came from a village family of fishermen, not from a griot clan of traditional musicians, but he's not precisely 'self-trained'. His musical education includes formal conservatory studies. He has a lifelong friend, the blind griot Mansour Seck, who has sung on most of his recordings and who still accompanies him on tours. Mansour does little more these days than back-up vocals, but his mere presence adds an aura of humanity and tradition to Baaba Maal's stage performances. These days, Baaba Maal has a decidedly "rock star" stage presence, a bit of Mick Jagger or Bruce Springsteen about him, one moment brimming with enthusiasm but the next frowning with what looks a lot like disdain. He's become a "crowd stirrer" as much as a singer, and likewise his music has become a little monochromatically 'stirring', even when he sings a song with 'softness' implied in the lyrics. Using predominantly 'western' melodic instruments -- electric guitars and electric keyboard -- he has in effect jettisoned the scales and microtones of traditional Muslim African music. Likewise he employs a standard trap set of drums, like a jazz combo would, to frame his songs, while other members of his combo provide fireworks, physical virtuosity on the 'talking drums' and other African percussion. His drummers are very skilled, very exciting, but only on a momentary level. There's not really much 'musical thought' behind their virtuosity, or in Baaba Maal's current compositions.
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Aug 14, 2010
Aug 31, 2010 06:58 PM UTC
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2009 album from the celebrated Senegalese master-musician. With its subtle blending of Electronic Dance elements and West African musical traditions, the record is a groundbreaking successor to 2001's Missing You. Television was produced jointly by Baaba Maal and Barry Reynolds, once the guitarist with the legendary Compass Point Studio Band, and mixed by Jerry Boys. The album was made in London and Dakar, the Senegalese capital. Baaba Maal worked on its eight songs with various musicians, but most specifically in a collaboration throughout the recording with singer Sabina Sciubba and keyboardist Didi Gutman, both members of New York's Brazilian Girls, who blend electronic dance music with a diversity of eclectic styles. Eight tracks. Palm.