Africando, the renowned musical collective that brings together talented artists from Africa and the Caribbean, released their fifth album, “Mandali”, in 2005. With eleven of the world’s greatest singers collaborating on this project, “Mandali” offers an unstoppable blend of dance music and high-caliber salsa. While it may differ from their earlier albums by omitting slower cha-chas and son montunos, the album compensates with a remarkable variety of vocal timbres and tones. With the guidance of Boncana Maiga’s masterful arrangements, “Mandali” showcases a vibrant tapestry of nasal West African vocals, Congolese intonations, Beninois inflections, Haitian twists, Cuban sonero sounds, Puerto Rican salsero touches, and Burkina Faso tinges. The result is a true African-Caribbean experience, as expressed in the liner notes—a veritable vocal summit.
“Mandali” opens with the classic Gambian group Super Eagles’ timeless composition, revitalized by Senegal’s Medoune Diallo. Diallo’s silky vocals, combined with energetic percussion and piano, create an exhilarating musical journey. The following track, “Miye Na We”, takes us on a captivating ride, blending Antillean melodies with Latin percussive power, resulting in an irresistibly rhythmic experience.
“Pepita”, composed by Boncana Maiga, receives a robust interpretation by Hector Casanova from Puerto Rico’s legendary group, El Gran Combo. Casanova’s spirited performance injects the song with renewed energy and showcases his remarkable vocal prowess.
The album’s eighth track, “Betece”, stands out with its rich horn section, accompanied by the alluring sounds of the tres guitar and the rippling charanga flute. Amadou Balake, one of Burkina Faso’s national treasures, provides the captivating vocals, making “Betece” an absolute delight for the ears.
African-Caribbean Fusion at Its Finest
“Mandali” stands as a testament to the power of cross-cultural collaboration and the magic that arises when talented musicians from diverse backgrounds unite. The album seamlessly weaves together African salsa, Cuban son, and Puerto Rican salsa, resulting in a tapestry of vibrant rhythms and melodies.
By bringing together artists from Africa and the Caribbean in the heart of New York City, Africando captures the essence of cultural exchange and artistic interplay. Each musician skillfully contributes their distinct musical heritage while also embracing the influences of their fellow collaborators. The result is a captivating listening experience that transcends borders and unites people through the universal language of music.
Whether you are a fan of salsa, African rhythms, or simply enjoy exploring diverse musical styles, “Mandali” is a highly recommended addition to your playlist. Africando’s infectious energy and the seamless fusion of cultures on this album will transport you to a world where boundaries fade away, leaving only the universal language of music to unite us all.