Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Orchestra Baobab: Specialist in All Styles [Nonesuch, 2002]
Cut 30 years after they formed and 15 yearsafter they hung up their tumba and timbales, this Nick Gold reunion party is the ideal introduction to Baobab's relaxed mastery of American instruments, Cuban rhythms, and Senegalese form-and-content. Barthelemy Attisso's guitar is surer than when he was a big bandleader, Issa Cissoko's saxophone slyer than when he was a crazy kid. The four remakes from Bamba and On Verra Ça are richer and mellower, not just as recordings, where money helped, but performances--Attisso must have missed that guitar he stashed to go off and lawyer in Togo. And when Youssou N'Dour and Ibrahim Ferrer conjoin on the same track, Afro-Cuban is made flesh and goes to heaven. A