Africando

Mandali

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AllMusic Review by

Mandali is Africando's fifth album and features no less than eleven of the world's greatest singers. It is nonstop dance music and salsa of the highest caliber. The only things missing are the slower cha-chas and son montunos featured on the earlier albums. The horns are fat and fiery as ever and Boncana Maiga's arrangements are tight and sparkling. The various vocalists' timbres and tones provide a textural variety that would not be present if the album featured only one vocalist. Here we get nasal West African vocals from Mali, Senegal, and Guinea, Congolese intonations, Beninois inflections, Haitian twists, Cuban sonero sounds, Puerto Rican salsero touches, and Burkina Faso tinges. This is truly an African-Caribbean band and music; as stated in the liner notes, it is a veritable vocal summit.

"Mandali" is an older song originally done by the famous Gambian group, Super Eagles. Here Medoune Diallo of Senegal turns on the steam with his silky vocal. The percussion and piano provide the propulsion. "Miye Na We" is a hot mélange of Antillean melody and Latin percussive power. "Pepita," a Boncana Maiga composition, is given robust treatment by Hector Casanova of El Gran Combo, Puerto Rico's legendary group. "Betece" checks in at number eight on the play list with fat hot horns, tres guitar, rippling charanga flute, and a fine bass rhythm. The vocal on this track is by Amadou Balake, one Burkino Faso's national treasures. "Scanadalo" ("Scandal in the Family"), by Trinidad's Sir Lancelot, is given a Haitian Creole-Latin tinge by Shoubou of Tabou Combo.

It's African salsa, Cuban son, Puerto Rican salsa. It's Africa and the Caribbean at their best coming together in New York City, the capital of the world. Here are some of the world's most gifted musicians giving and taking from each other in continual musical interchange and interplay. This is what the members of Africando do best. They have done it again and they are on fire. Highly recommended.

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