Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Orchestra Baobab: Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng [World Circuit, 2017]
Specialist in All Styles and Made in Dakar, the 2001 and 2008 albums that reunited this world-class band, climaxed a career that began with a 15-year run in 1970, went into abeyance rather than "modernize," and then surged back. But because guitarist-arranger Barthelemy Attisso would rather be a lawyer in Togo than a star in Senegal, this long-delayed sequel was a challenge. Attisso's young Beninois replacement is deft enough without approaching his calm mastery or getting as much room, overshadowed as he is by a well-integrated kora add-on who, while hardly the usual mystagogue, sometimes renders the ambience perilously world-musicky even so. But though singer Ndiouga Dieng is indeed gone, Balla Sidibe and Rudy Gomis remain frontmen to reckon with as their voices roughen, and where Baobab's other 21st-century albums reconstituted their greatest hits, here they generate new titles worthy of their legend. For orientation, start in the middle with "Woulinewa" and the only remake, the Dieng-identified "Sey," which a cameo from Baobab alum Thione Seck takes home. Then start again from the beginning. A-