Album Review

Johnson, Dexter & Le Super Star De Dakar – “Live a L’Etoile” – [Teranga Beat]

Thurston Hunger   8/20/2014   CD, International

Cool stuff via the excellent Teranga Beat label (and via our
vital Forced Exposure connection….more please Monsieur Benoit!)
Nigerian tenor saxmen comes to Senegal in the late 50’s joins the
Star Band de Dakar, but breaks away to form the Super Star version
(a little “how’s my stardust taste perhaps?). The music here is
removed from any such vitrolic or vengeful nascence, instead it’s
super smooth Afro-Cuban percolated sweetness. Singing in Spanish,
swinging in the shade of a cocktail umbrella, and doing so before
the roots of Orchestra Baobab took over. These “live” tracks (which
don’t come with dubbed in crowd captures) are pretty pristine.
A nice rough rawness on some tracks like “Para Que Bueno” with
excellent nasally back-up vox. Similarly the singing on “Mayeya”
reminded me of a dream with the Sun City Girls. Most songs like
“Para Que Bueno and the closer “Soy El Rey” are clearly dance/boogaloo
numbers, as their lyrics attest. Even on the slower cuts, percussion
blankets the music, giving “Mujer de Oriente” a dreamy sheen. For
some reason, lots of times I found myself digging the choruses over
the verses, like on “Caminho de Sao Tome” where it quivers with
a special power and a special pain. But most of the work here
lies well within the upbeat Afro-Cubano canon.

-Thurston Hunger

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