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May 2000

Djanbutu Thiossane
Ass, Mass and Pap
Intuition Music

"Serigne Saliou Mbacke," the opening track of Djanbutu Thiossane's Ass, Mass & Pap (Intuition 3267; 49:33) drifts into consciousness, its initially gentle percussion intro segueing into a thickening musical plot, with subtle, heartfelt vocals atop lacework on kora, and lithe bass lines. The tune rises to its own occasion, like someone rubbing the sleep out of his or her eyes and finding him or herself in a groove already in progress. Once awakened, the music is alert and entrancing all at once, in the West African griot tradition. The band led by the three Senegalese N'Diaye brothers-whose names make up the album's title-recorded in Madrid, having found happy performance opportunities in Europe, and they strike an agreeable balance between traditional Senegalese music and a few western touches, a back beat here, a bass riff there. Mostly, the music speaks well for itself, and for the possibility of crossing over with integrity.

Originally published in May 2000
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