Family matters have kept me from posting for a while. I am sure you haven't had time to get bored, with all the posting of the various blogs, but I am hoping to do some 'catching-up' in the next few weeks.
The UCAS Jazz Band from Sedhiou (Casamance, Senegal) is said to be the oldest Senegalese band in existence. Allegedly* founded in 1959, it seems unlikely that the orchestra which released a CD (and DVD) in 2003 has links other than the name to the original band, - or even to the band who released this lp in the 1970s.
According to the sleeve of this lp on the N'Dardisc label** the orchestra won the gold medal at the Semaine Nationale de la Jeunesse in 1967, 1970 and 1972, participated in the panafrican youth festival in Tunis in 1973, and performed at some festivals in Spain and France. The mention of the festivals in Europe can only be explained by the year this album was released, - which was before the many European festivals with African artists.
The orchestra is obviously inspired by the broad scope of traditional music from the Casamance, which is considered to be the region from where the kora originated (although Sidiki Diabaté talked about Guinea Bissau in a video - which I will post later). Apart from the remarkable use of a kora in this modern orchestra, their link with tradition is apparent, if not obvious, from the songs selected. Songs which are from the repertoire of regional legends like Lalo Keba Dramé and Soundioulou Sissoko. As in all modern Senegalese music from this period there is a Latin element, in this case in the song "Yatouloveras" ("Ya tu lo veras", but not the Dimension Latina song).
It may surprise you, but my favourite tracks are tracks without kora: the two ballads "Regret" and "M'Badighol", and "Waite-Nao". And I love the vocals on "Tourban".
*the sleeve notes claim that the Union Culturelle et Artistique de Sédhiou was founded in 1959. I can find no proof that the orchestra was initiated in the same year.
**a following album on this label (33-14) is the one by Laba Sosseh I posted earlier.