Touré Kunda

Live: Paris-Ziguinchor

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This live recording captures the great Senegalese band around the time of their finest recordings (Amadou-Tilo and Casamance au Clair de Lune) and offers some wonderful performances of their greatest hits, including "Salya" and "Emma." Their accompanying musicians are out in full force, though with the exception of the occasional cheesy synthesizer fill, they're largely reined in, providing the appropriately surging backdrop to the group's scintillating vocal harmonies and driving West African percussion. Through rhythmic repetition, they were able to develop hypnotic and captivating pieces that were sometimes based on something as mundane as the introduction of bandmembers, a feature that occurs no less than three times over the course of this album but can go almost unnoticed in context. "Emma" is given perhaps its definitive performance here; the keening, poignant vocal line is rendered with heartbreaking directness and the loping rhythm provides just enough melancholic nostalgia. The recording quality is excellent throughout and the band is both as tight as necessary and as loose as one would want them to be. It's a fine introduction to the group as it blends both their roots-oriented approach and their more overtly pop incarnations. Recommended.

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