Kadior Demb - ROYAL BAND de THIÈS / LP
Senegalese Mbalax meets sweet Afro-jazz in Teranga Beat's reissue of a gorgeous 1979 LP by Royal Band de Thiès. In the finest tradition of Mbalax, the group gets down with some serious rhythms, a polyrhythmic patter that's always swingeingly, irresistibly cool; no matter whether they're on a downbeat sway or setting the pace upbeat, there's always an infectiously gripping rhythm from the dual drummers steering the group in the right direction. And that's not where their strengths end. The horn section is as rich as you could hope for, while the guitars are minimal, mellifluous and the vocals from Mapathe Gadiaga dit James and Adama Seck dit Secka waft alternately with reserved urgency and mellow cool to a cross-cultural backdrop borrowing from the best bits of African, Latin and European traditions, as is the way with progressive West African music. It's just hard to believe that it was recorded 33 years ago: the two-mic recording captures the whole thing wonderfully well, subtly rendering the sense of space and vibe as though we're right in the middle of the scene, tipple in hand soaking up one of the finest sounds Senegal has to offer. Recommended.