One of the major exponents of the unique saxophone sound of Africa was also one of the key people in keeping alive the Cuban tradition. Dexter Johnson anchored the house band at Sangomar Nightclub in Dakar, Senegal, in the 1960s. The whole subsequent popularity of artists like Gnonnas Pedro, Laba Sosseh, and recently Africando, stems from this vital connection.
A Nigerian by birth, Johnson moved West to spread Highlife music. At that time, in the late fifties, there was a cultural conflict in the music of French West Africa: indigenous forms were arising to replace French colonial music, but more and more people were turning to cha-cha and mambo rhythms from Cuba. Hybrids were not succeeding, so Johnson took over the Star Band in Dakar and turned it into a Cuban cover band, and the rest is history. His golden sax tone glitters like desert sand at noon.
These recordings were made by the owner of the nightclub and the tapes have decayed in the tropical climate, but Dakar Sound (that excellent label based in Groningen, Holland) has managed to do a lot of restoration. It`s a miracle that these gigs were recorded at all. Muscially they are an important link to the reintegration of Afro-Cuban rhythms into the motherland. STARBAND - SUPERSTAR DE DAKAR - INTERNATIONAL BAND featuring Dexter Johnson, is the title, showing the evolving groups that performed with the legendary saxophonist in the mid-sixties. This is the essential collection for anyone interested in how Salsa Africana came about.