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World Music CD Reviews Africa

JAOJOBY

By ROBERT KAYE
Published January 25, 2006

Malagasy
World Village

One of the most popular entertainers in Madagascar and throughout the Indian Ocean islands is Eusébe Jaojoby, the reigning king and one of the founders of the modern dance music known as Salegy. The word Salegy itself dates back to the ’60s; of Indonesian origin, it refers to a new, electric music, bridging both popular and traditional music. Typically, its songs are extremely upbeat, clocking in at about 150-plus beats per minute, which are usually expressed in brisk, ternary meters (like 6/8). That means you’ll be dancing up a sweat before the end of the second verse. Jaojoby’s rhythm section cooks up spitfire grooves that just don’t quit. Kudos especially to drummer Augustin Radaonandrasana, whose polyrhythmic dexterity is nothing short of spectacular. Not all the tunes clock in at breakneck speeds. The gently cavorting “Mahangoma” and others provide welcome (and necessary) breathers in between 6/8 scorchers like “Malagasy” and “Tsy Zanakra Mpanarivo,” which undulate with tricky “3 with 2” cross-rhythms. Timba-like bloques (breaks) abound as well.