Orchestra Baobab

Biography

This band has attained almost legendary status in West African music history. In 1970 it was among the most popular in Senegal and continues to be remembered, not least because of the below-mentioned disks.

The band was formed one Friday in 1970 to play at the opening of Club Baobab in Dakar. A number of the members were from the then most central band in Senegal, Star Band. Star Band was formed in 1960 to celebrate Senegal’s independence. Senegal’s club music had been influenced by Cuban styles since the 1940s, but by the 1970s was in the process of changing. African traditional music began to seep into modern dance music via impulses from Guinea and Mali. The formation of Orchestra Baobab was a further step in the direction of Africanisation. Both the Wolof and Mandinka elements came into the group’s music, in addition to a hint of Spanish influence, thanks to singer and composer Aadolphe Gomis from Guinea Bissau.

Toward the end of the 1970s Orchestra Baobab lost its leading position in Senegal when a new generation broke out of Star Band and began to play a harder, more rock influenced style, mbalax. In 1982, the same year as Youssou N’Dour formed his Super Etoile de Dakar, Orchestra Baobab went into the studio and made the album, “Pirate’s Choice”.

Not long after, the original crew began to fall away and Orchestra Baobab’s golden epoch in Senegalese music was over.
In 2001/2002 the band, after hard efforts from among others recording company World Circuit, has started to play again.