Pirates Choice

This two-disc set revisits one of the great bands in the history of West African music.

This two-disc set revisits one of the great bands in the history of West African music. The tunes contained here were released in Senegal 20 years ago and eventually made their way to Europe but have failed to see the light of day in the U.S.; that is, until now, with the domestic release of the landmark album, Pirates Choice. Completely remastered and formatted—with a second disc of previously unavailable recordings—Pirates Choice is further proof that Cuban music had a huge influence on West African musicians in the 20th century. The Baobab sound is a melange of Cuban descarga and rumba, Senegalese regional influences, and, perhaps, a bit of Nigerian high life music. Songs are sung in Spanish, Wolof, and Mandinka. The music is most notable for its laid-back grooves, and the compelling solo work of Barthelemy Attisso (guitar) and Issa Sissoko (tenor sax). Later this year, World Circuit/Nonesuch will issue a new Baobab album, produced by Youssou N'Dour.—PVV