Orchestra Baobab: Rudy Gomis bowed out

« Un other Baobab of Senegalese music went away last night. Farewell Rudy Gomis. We will miss you, ”wrote the Association of Music Professions of Senegal (AMS) on its Facebook page after learning the news of the disappearance, on the night of April 26 to 27, of the one who had started playing. percussion in this mythical group that was the Orchestra Baobab. “The cultural world is in mourning. Bedridden for several weeks, the native of Ziguinchor had preferred to retire to his family in this city, in Casamance”, wrote, quoted by AFP, the journalist Martin Faye, former star presenter of the Senegalese public radio, on Twitter.

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Rudy Gomis, a major voice in African music

Rudy Gomis was “one of the best melodists” of his time, said Senegalese rapper Didier Awadi in March 2021 during a program he hosted on Senegalese public television. “My father didn’t want me to make music, he wanted me to be a customs officer like him, but I was stubborn from a very young age”, said Rudy Gomis in the Sargal program in which he participated on the stage of the Théâtre de Greenery. He had mentioned the “pan-African” character of the Orchestra Baobab, made up of musicians from Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Togo and Morocco. Rudy Gomis, who has sung in several languages, including Wolof, the most widely spoken language in Senegal, began playing with the Orchestra Baobab in the 1970s, a prosperous period for large musical ensembles in Africa.

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The Baobab Orchestra on a pan-African furrow

It all started when, with the Togolese guitarist Barthélémy Attisso and the percussionist Balla Sidibé, he passed through the Star Band, the orchestra of the club Le Miami, to land in a new club called Le Baobab. On site Panafricanmusic.com, Barthélémy Attisso, now deceased, had confided how the adventure was tied. “To animate the dance hall, they needed highly talented musicians. They spotted us and we left the Miami Star Band. They needed a variety orchestra because at the Baobab club, there were tourists who came from all walks of life… Our bosses, music lovers, always brought us records, either from the United States or from Europe or Asia. They asked us to try to play them on stage. We easily succeeded in this, especially since they provided us with all the instruments we needed”.

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Follow the Orchestra Baobab during a concert in 2002

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Thus has the Orchestra Baobab traveled with a musical style characterized by a mixture of Latin rhythms, African sounds and soul and jazz influences. In addition to Rudy Gomis, the group was animated in its heyday by great musicians such as singers Ndiouga Dieng, Thione Seck, Balla Sidibé, also a percussionist, saxophonist Issa Sissokho, and guitarist Barthélémy Attisso. All of them now extinct, they left as a legacy a sound and pieces forever present in the musical memory of the Continent.

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