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Mar Seck

Vagabonde: From Super Cap-Vert to Number One, Unreleased recordings 1969-1980

(Teranga Beat; US: 26 Nov 2013; UK: 12 Dec 2013)

Two minutes ago I did a search for Mar Seck on Amazon and the only albums I came up with—aside from retrospective compilations of the Etoile de Dakar, which he fronts in a single track on Vagabonde, and the strange inclusion of Back to Land by Wooden Shjips —were this one and a 2001 release from Espace Africa that refers to him as “Le Roi de la Salsa Africaine.” Any mention of him in English will always toss Youssou N’Dour in there by way of a framing device: look, it says, he was an older contemporary of N’Dour, and he was working in the same area, that transition boundaryland between music that was Cuban-African, with the emphasis on Cuba, and music that was more wholly African, eg, mbalax. Which is the way reportage works, I know, but it seems a shame that this voice, so romantic, so gently strong, so willing to let its 18-year-old falsetto break in half over a note in “Sibouten”, should be so persistently overshadowed. And will be thus until the end of time, I suppose.

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