Bembeya Jazz National


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After a 14-year layoff, Bembeya Jazz National, high in the pantheon of legendary African dance bands, roars back onto the international stage with this release. In addition to new material, they have included new versions of songs from their seminal mid-'60s period and different takes on hits from the 1970s and 1980s. Their signature four-guitar section is led by the mercurial fretwork of Sekou Bembeya Diabate (aka Diamond Fingers). The tight brass section still has two members from the 1960s and their riffs are full and fat. Bembeya's three singers' voices are laced with enduring sweetness and harmony. The drumming and percussion combined with monster bass round out a formidable rhythm section that is hard to top. They sound as vitally powerful as they did from the 1960-1980s, pumping out the deep grooves with lots of swinging soul. This album is not a recording of a group of aging musicians trying to recapture their youthful spirit. They never lost it. It's clear from the music on Bembeya that the vision of Guinea's first president, Sekou Toure, still lives. From the opening trumpet and basslines on "Bembeya," it's evident that this is prime African music. Dancers on the planet have good reason to rejoice, as do all lovers of African music. Highly recommended.

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