Africando All-Stars Betece

Africando is one of the most remarkably successful cross-cultural experiments in music today. The exchange of rhythms and structures between Africa and the Caribbean has been going strong since the '30s. In 1993, Africando started with producer Ibrahim Sylla combining the West African vocal styles of Pape Seck and Medoune Diallo to an all-star band of New York salsa musicians. The resulting four albums have thrilled both African and American audiences alike. Betece stays in fine form while expanding the roster of fine vocalists. Of greatest note here is the golden voice of Africa, Salif Keita, who delivers an absolute career highlight with his updated version of "Ntoman." Arranger Boncana Maiga (Senegalese, but Cuban trained) writes a driving arrangement over which Keita dips and soars, vocally. In general, the African vocal sonorities are much softer than the commanding salsa singers of yesteryear, which makes for a more inviting sound, encouraging the listener (and dancer) to pay attention. This is an idea that continues to pay dividends - it never sounds like a formula - where all the participants sound excited to be a part of the action and the fusion seems like the most natural in the world. (Nuff)