Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Senegalese Auteur




I ordered Seydina Insa Wade's LP Yoff (Disques Esperance ESP 8415, 1985) from Sterns many years ago not knowing anything about the album or the artist, and it was a revelation.
The LP achieves a magical blend of acoustic and electric sounds that stands out even among the many great Senegalese recordings of the '80s.

I had always thought that Yoff was a one-off effort by an otherwise obscure musician, but in researching this post I discovered that Seydina Insa Wade is anything but a flash in the pan. He is a highly accomplished auteur and composer whose work is greatly respected by all the giants of Senegalese music.

Wade was born in Dakar in 1948 and began his musical career in the Rio Sextet, later moving on to Calypso Jazz, with whom he performed in the first Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres (FESTAC I) in 1966. A sympathizer of the political Left in Senegal, Wade's compositions took on many of the social issues of the day. In the late '60s he briefly joined the first incarnation of Xalam, moving on to the Negro Stars, La Plantation and the Sahel Band.

It was in the early 1980s that Wade achieved what many consider the apotheosis of modern Senegalese folk music with the formation of the acoustic group Tabala, featuring percussionist Idrissa Diop and multi-instrumentalist Oumar Sow. These were the musicians with whom Wade recorded Yoff, which brought him a measure of renown and a tour of several European countries. The musicians subsequently went their separate ways, Sow returning to Senegal to join Youssou N'dour's Super Etoile, Diop forming the jazz-fusion group Sixun, and Wade rejoining the reconstituted Xalam.

In 2003 Seydina Insa Wade returned to Senegal to reunite with Oumar Sow and record the CD Xalima, the subject of a documentary by filmmaker Ousmane William Mbaye, "Xalima-La Plume."

Click on the pictures to read the liner notes (in French).



Seydina Insa Wade - Ciat

Seydina Insa Wade - Fama Re

Seydina Insa Wade - Yoff

Seydina Insa Wade - So Bugge

Seydina Insa Wade - Beure Bouki Ak M'Bam

Seydina Insa Wade - Seni Dom

Seydina Insa Wade - Taaruna

Seydina Insa Wade - Len Dem



Download Yoff as a zipped file here.

5 comments:

Steve Pile said...

Awesome. Perfect balance of electric and acoustic...in fact now that theres all that acoustic, I wouldn't mind hearing some of that nice smallstone phaser sound I've come to connect to senegalese music of this era...but still nice and warm sounding, esp. for the 80s

Anonymous said...

This record has an incredible sound and vibe I've never really heard before. I was really impressed with the choice of instruments, effects, and rhythm. Very organic. Are there other albums with a similar sound out there?

daan42 said...

What a pleasure to find this music. I'd never heard anything by any of these musicians. It has the rhythmic complexity we'd expect from Senegalese music but for me what is the standout is Oumar Sow's jazzy piano. Re. the post above, for a very different CD but with an incredible and organic vibe, Baaba Maal / Mansour Seck's classic "Lam Tooro" (if you've not heard that).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Hello, Seydina Insa Wade passed away today. He was a great musician indeed full of soul and spirituality.
http://www.futursmedias.sn/actualites-a-la-une/disparition-de-seydina-insa-wade-le-pere-du-folk-senegalais-s%E2%80%99est-eteint

Mario Osvaldo Fonseca