Orchestra Baobab

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Putting a classic band together 15 years after their demise can be a recipe for disaster. In this case, though, World Circuit head Nick Gold has definitely done the world a favor. Orchestra Baobab might be best known for their classic Pirate's Choice, but this disc is every bit the equal -- it's most certainly not Buena Vista Baobab Club. For someone who hadn't touched a guitar in years, after becoming a lawyer in his native Togo, Barthelemy Attisso is all over this record, offering beautiful, inventive solos and playing whose fluidity, especially on "Gnawe" and "Dee Moo Wor," is wonderfully atmospheric. As any fan would expect, the Cuban influence remains very strong, but the Wolf roots are also strong, especially in the voice of young singer Assane Mboup. Guest turns from Ibrahim Ferrer and co-producer Youssou N'Dour on "Homage a Tonton Ferrer" -- a remake of "Utru Horas," their biggest song -- aren't going to hurt the album's visibility. But ultimately it's the band themselves who carry the record, playing better than ever (not only the superb Attisso, but also saxman Issa Cissokho). Back in fine style, indeed.

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