Sélébéyone

Willie Davis

Everything — words, notes, glistening sheets of electronic sound — moves faster and slower at the same time on saxophonist Steve Lehman and Sélébéyone's 2016 debut album. Sélébéyone (which means "intersection" in Wolof) is an Afrofuturist confluence of Senegalese hip-hop, Sufi Islamic metaphysics, French compositional trends, and hard American bop. The outfit's two rappers — Antipop Consortium co-founder HPrizm and Senegal's Gaston Bandimic — are Sufi Muslims who unspool optimistic theology and pessimistic politics, while Lehman and protégé Maciek Lasserre blend saxophones and electronics along with Carlos Homs (keyboards), Chris Tordini (bass), and Damion Reid (drums). Lehman's "spectral" harmonies may be based on psychoacoustics, but there's no dearth of feeling as he races through the disorienting rhythmic contortions of such tracks as "Bamba," which contains Wolof lines like "It's nobody but Him/If you don't believe me, ask the dog."
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