Alune Wade Performs New Album “Sultan” at The Blue Llama

Senegalese bassist, vocalist, and composer Alune Wade returns to the U.S. for a tour to celebrate the release of his latest album, “Sultan.”

On January 25th, Wade makes his Ann Arbor debut with his onstage band to perform a host of songs from the album at the Blue Llama Jazz Club.

Wade, a multi-talented author, and artist released his first solo album, “Mbolo” (which means “unity” in Wolof), in 2006. Since then, the artist has become known for his trademark brand of music, fusing different African sounds to create his virtuosic brand of Jazz.  

“Sultan,” released in May 2022, is the fifth solo album of Wade’s 15-year career. Sultan is a story of 12 songs representing 12 different voyages across West Africa and North Africa. Wade states this album is a culmination of stories he’s learned throughout the past decade of his career.

“This album is a book, and I’m the storyteller. For the last 10 or 15 years of my career, I’ve met people from Cuba, like Karen Lopez, and people from Morocco,” Wade said. “All of my experiences are represented by this album. Now is the time to introduce how and from where the songs I’m playing were created.”

For “Sultan”, this album offers a multitude of unique sounds, with each song designed to tell a new story from a new space in Africa. Each track is instrumentally varied and provides a unique thematic feel without being out of place or too ambitious. Wade credits this approach to his Senegalese upbringing.

“I’ve been surrounded by this kind of music since I was a kid,” Wade said. “Because of the Quran and the mosque, Senegal is not far from Mauritania. We have this connection with Moroccan education. Because we all share something, we all share the same religion. That means we also got to share the same musical culture. That’s why it was natural for me to compose this music.”


Wade said the creation of this album began in 2018 During the recording of his fourth album, 2018’s “African Fast Food”, which included “Pharaoh’s Dance.” A song he described as a musical meeting between East Africa and Egypt. Wade stated that he wanted to mix the sounds without losing their originality.

“In Africa, we have the Green Myrrh, a new forest with millions of trees from West Africa till the east. If you listen to the album, you can connect this line from West Africa, Senegal, Mali, and Ethiopia. The album is the story of a Sultan traveling from the west to the east of Africa,” Wade said.

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Antonio Cooper is a freelance journalist from Detroit, Michigan. His coverage of music festivals and interviews with local celebrities appeared in The E-Current Magazine, The Detroit Metro Times, XXL Magazine, RichMagDigital, The Ann Arbor Observer, and Pop Magazine.