Africa Sings!!!Baaba Maal reigns supremely at The Fillmore

Misani | 4/12/2011, 5:24 p.m.

On the beautiful "Tindo Quando," the hypnotic repetition of the opening chords of the guitar immediately transported the audience back to another time and place...Baaba's early years of playing music, just him and his guitar. He described it as: "playing...and singing; on top of that, all the things that I'm thinking at that moment." On this song, Maal's rich, mellow voice singing in Pulaar, the language spoken in his hometown of Podor, colored the song beautifully, as images on a screen in the background helped to paint the picture.

On the popular title track from his CD "Television," the hook of the hip, upbeat contemporary song, a collaboration written by Maal, Barry Reynolds, S. Sciubba and D. Gutman, was obscured by the audience, who were singing and dancing to the song as if they owned it. The vivid images on the screen above the stage served to decipher the French lyrics, which seemed to go on and on like the winding, sweet-voiced Senegal River, flowing, leaping and laughing joyously like the unconquerable Maal.

"Dakar Moon," another great track from the new album, also struck the hearts and souls of the audience. Sung in English and Pulaar by Maal, the poetic lyrics transported The Fillmore to the beauty and serenity of a Senegal night. Through Maal's superlative performance, the rich multiplicity and range of his voice, along with Sarr's exceptional percussions, Diop's phenomenal talking drums and Reynolds' brilliant guitar playing, the concert had reached its first peak. However, more climactic moments would color the early morning over and over again on "Podor Assiko," "One Love Africa," "Africa Woman" and "Saraca." Yes, Maal, backed by Lenol, delivered again and again, so much so that there were no more words left to describe this wondrous experience. There was nothing except tears of gratitude and joy for the ingenuity of Maal and Africa.

Later backstage, Maal received congratulations from Kevin Mambo and Tony-nominee Sahr Ngaujah, the stars of the hit Broadway musical "Fela!," which recently received 11 Tony nominations.

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