Arts, Culture & Media

The return of Senegal's Orchestra Baobab

Orchestra Baobab.jpg

Senegal's Orchestra Baobab on stage.

I've always wanted to tell the story of the lead guitarist in the legendary Senegalese ensemble, Orchestra Baobab.

Player utilities

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

His name is Barthelemy Attisso and he's an amazing musical talent. Attisso also happens to be a lawyer in his native Togo, though. So he would commute from there to Senegal to rehearse and tour with the band.

A few years ago, he recommitted himself to the law, which meant that when Baobab was ready to record its latest album, they needed a replacement for Attisso.

And they found a replacement. Not another guitarist, mind you, but a player of another kind of string instrument, the kora, whose name is Abdoulaye Cissoko.

The new Orchestra Baobab album, "Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng," does not suffer as a result.

It's the same fun and exciting ensemble. It just happens to have a different instrument as the lead voice.

The album is named to honor singer and composer Ndiouga Dieng, one of the original group members, who died in November.

Nick Gold produced the album and admits it was "tricky" to make a record without Attisso, but, "as we brought in the kora and the saxophones, we didn't notice his absence so much. There's a slightly different sound to it, which I'm in love with." 

Gold is drawn to the sounds of West Africa. He keeps going back. He says it's difficult to define why, "but it's just wonderful to be sort-of enveloped in it. It's a very nice place to be."

It's a very nice place to be indeed.