Regatta Bar

Boubacar Diabate and SambaLolo

The Regattabar Jazz Club guests who made their way through the most recent winter storm were brought together for a real treat Saturday. Boubacar Diabate and his group SambaLolo played a warm, fun show which helped their audience escape the cold Boston winter for the duration of the experience. Boubacar is a singer, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist from Mali; his voice is energetic, inviting, and warm. During the performance, spectators found themselves standing up, dancing, clapping, and even singing along with the group. Throughout the course of the performance, Boubacar was consistently the focus of the presentation, but between songs, he would pass the reigns off to his fellow performers to get perspective on the meaning and the tradition behind the pieces. The themes of the songs ranged from peace, love, and even death. Throughout, however, one motif was consistent, in that a sense of community and togetherness was always present and significant to the experience of each song. This could be felt in the very feel of the pieces, as many in the audience found themselves dancing together, singing, and meeting one another. Boubacar’s vocals and guitar playing were excellent and fantastically well accompanied by percussion, bass, and electric piano. The percussion setup was essential and included a drum kit, a master drum, and two djembes. The percussion players in the group drive the music and are what allow Boubacar’s melodies to be so engaging. Instead of having one focal player, the band has so many driving elements that it sometimes feels as if Boubacar is having a call and response conversation with the percussion, which gives the audience the opportunity to join in the music. Ultimately, building this interaction and a sense of community is the goal of this group’s music. Throughout the course of the performance, the music experience became less performer-audience oriented and became more about a big group of people making, participating in, and enjoying music. Some friends of the band joined in playing djembe, and others performed alongside the group. By the end, the lines between audience and performer seemed blurred, if they were still there at all.

~ Bobby Ortega (blues guitarist, graduate student at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology)