Like its name, which draws from the English, Serer and Wolof languages, the Senegal-based group Sahad and the Nataal Patchwork refuses to stick to any one genre, blending Afrobeat, Malian blues, Cuban percussion and jazz effortlessly in their kinetic live performances. The group has made a name for itself playing at hot Dakar venues like Just 4 You, Les Petites Pierres, and L’Institut Français, and has toured the country, performing at the International Jazz Festival in Saint-Louis and the Festival du Sahel.
With five years of live performances behind them, Sahad and the Nataal Patchwork is deeply rooted in the Senegalese music scene, yet has only begun to prepare its first album, which will help the band extend beyond the local music sphere and reach audiences as diverse as its musical influences. The group’s debut EP, Nataal, offers a glimpse of its dynamic and captivating sound: In “Darou,” lead singer and rhythm guitarist Sahad Sarr’s meandering voice rolls over the masterful yet unobtrusive guitar of Brahim Wone, while the drums, bass and percussion maintain a tight groove that drives the song forward. Sharp horn blasts and moments of syncopation worthy of Chick Corea cut through the luscious soundscapes and keep the listener on edge.
Although the group performs best at high energy, they also show an undeniable aptitude for softness and restraint in slower songs like “Nobel,” “Ndiaye Gaindé” and “Débarquement,” which apply multilayered vocal harmonies interspersed with saxophone and the band’s signature percussion. Of these three tracks, “Débarquement” stands out: The brass section performs haunting swells over a clinking balafon as Sahad exchanges vocal melodies with the backing vocalists.
The as-of-yet untitled debut album is set for an October release as the band rolls out a crowd-sourcing campaign called “The Open Circle.” For those eager to listen beyond Nataal, Sahad and the Nataal Patchwork has shared exemplary excerpts of its live performances on its Youtube and Soundcloud accounts.