Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  And It Don't Stop
  Book Reports
  Is It Still Good to Ya?
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Xgau Sez
  And It Don't Stop
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Rolling Stone
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
Web Site:
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
CG Search:
Google Search:

Laba Sosseh [extended]

  • Salsa Africana--Monguito El Unico and Laba Sosseh in U.S.A. [Sacodisc, 2005] A-
  • Volume 1 [Syllart, 2012] B+

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Monguito El Unico and Laba Sosseh: Salsa Africana--Monguito El Unico and Laba Sosseh in U.S.A. [Sacodisc, 2005]
So my salsa-playing brother-in-law listens for a while and chides me indulgently for once again preferring African clave to the real thing. Not so abashed I don't remain into what I'm into, I think I hear what he means--the groove here is simultaneously more emphatic and more contained than in the Eddie Palmieri he's always promoting and the charanga he pops in now. Only as it turns out, these five tracks, which I have as an unannotated burn, were cherry-picked from circa-1980 sessions in which nasal, Cuba-born Monguito El Unico united chesty, Gambia-born Laba Sosseh with NYC salsa hotshots. In Dakar, Sosseh was a giant, supremely danceable in an era when salsa was the chosen music of the newly independent elite. In U.S.A., he was an exotic. This bypasses Sosseh's signature "Aminata" and "La Bicycletta." But the synergy of the two contrasting voices--plus, assuming the inevitable Nuyorican rub-off, three slightly different conceptions of clave--makes for yet another seductive variation on the Senegambian tinge. Not easy to find, and I've now heard other music by both Sosseh and Monguito that seems worth exploring. But this will always be where I started. A-

Volume 1 [Syllart, 2012]
Of griot family, the seminal Senegambian salsero sang forcefully from the sternum and grooved unshakably from the fundament, a principled disciple-evangelist who recorded regularly with Orquesta Aragon in Paris and occasionally with his Manhattan heroes as well. In Dakar he was the dancing master of the postcolonial elite, steadying his bands' Congo-rooted "Latin" beats so that they signified for West Africans. In what I assume is completist grandeur on a two-CD set whose fran?ais-seulement notes are impeccably free of useful detail, these 26 ('70s?) ('80s?) (classic?) (early?) tracks are solid and resonant once the recording quality rights itself. Seldom, however, do they rise above, with the biggest exception the same "Marie Gomis" available in somewhat duller audio on the Sosseh album I've puzzled longest over, Monguito El Unico and Laba Sosseh. Three of the other four tracks on that record also repeat here, with the bonus that this "Yamanekh" adds a speedy and welcome three-minute coda. A titan, definitely, and near as I can tell--compared to Sar's easier-to-find Laba Sosseh, for instance--this is as good as you're liable to find until some saint does a proper comp. B+