Historically, the region of the Congo was a vast geographical area of equatorial Africa located in the tropical wet forest of Central Africa called Congolian forests. It also owes its name to the predominant ethnic group in the region, ruled by Kingdom of Kongo founded towards the end of the 14th century and extended from 1390 to 1914.
Although the span of rule of the kingdom varied, in its greatest extent, the Kingdom of Kongo reached from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Kwango River in the east, and from the Congo River in the north to the Kwanza River in the south. The kingdom largely existed from c. 1390 to 1891 as an independent state, and from 1891 to 1914 as a vassal state of the Kingdom of Portugal. The Congo River, its main river, flows through the region forming the Congo Basin.
Some groupings advocate a return to one Congolese homeland on the basis of the historical kingdom. Very notably, the Bundu dia Kongo movement advocates reviving the kingdom through secession from Angola, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Gabon. The nowadays geographic region spans across the Republic of the Congo (former French Congo), Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaïre/Belgian Congo), and the Angolan exclave of Cabinda (former Portuguese Congo) which lies (bizarly !) between the Republic and the Democratic Republic and produces lot's of oil. Ah yes big business making lots of money with Congolese resources.
Ok the coming weeks we're hearing about the music from this African jungle heart, it's a strange place for Westerners, life is cheap and emotions rise quickly. Religion and music deliver the much needed coherance so for the coming 3 or 4 weeks we will present stars some of which have released many albums most of these never reached the Western public or even the great Discogs database. Today here 2 great old singers accompanied by top orchestra's .......N'joy
xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx
In 2008, Pascal Emmanuel Sinamoyi Tabou suffered a stroke that forced his retirement from public life at age 68. His most recent position had been a Vice-Governorship of the city of Kinshasa, the capital of his homeland, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Before that he served in the country's transitional parliament and the cabinet of President Laurent Kabila. His public life had begun decades earlier, though, in the 1950s, when he made his singing debut with Rock-A-Mambo, one of the great early Congolese rumba bands. At the time, Congo was still the Belgian Congo, and the rumba music that would become one of its greatest cultural gifts to the world was still coming into its own. Tabou, better known by his school nickname Rochereau, joined the band of Joseph Kabasele, and it was in this band that he cultivated the star power that allowed him to strike out on his own in the mid-60s.
This period was well documented on Sterns' excellent 2xCD The Voice of Lightness 1961-1977 compilation three years ago. That set brought the story up to 1977 and cataloged Rochereau's many shifts in direction as he honed his band, Orchestre Afrisa International, and consolidated his position as one of the masters of Congolese music. By 1977, his only real competitor for the title was the great guitarist and leader of OK Jazz, Franco. Vol. 2 of The Voice of Lightness picks up where the last one left off, right after Rochereau's triumphant appearance as the leader of an all-star Congolese band at the World Black and African Festival of Arts & Culture in Lagos, Nigeria. The band he led at FESTAC '77 appears on the first track here, sounding confident and laid back and maybe even a little old-fashioned playing an airy brand of rumba that was at the time being eclipsed by the faster soukous of Zaiko Langa Langa and other relatively young bands.
Rochereau's own band, Afrisa, enters to stay on the second track, though, and throughout the set, they demonstrate a clear mastery of the new, driving pulse the music had taken on, even as the members come and go. Occasionally, Rochereau even addresses the turnover, as he does on "Ponce Pilate", where he dryly chastises his defecting band members, singing in Lingal a, "We're shocked when we see someone injure someone else/ But we laugh when someone injures himself." Later, on "Sarah", he addresses turnover in his personal life, lashing out at his second wife after she divorced him while he was on tour in North America: "How does a man come to despise the woman he once loved?" It should be noted that Rochereau wasn't exactly treading on stable ground here-- he was never a one-woman man, and when I say second wife, I mean she was his second wife at the time. Rochereau was a practicing polygamist.
Even when he sang his most bile-filled lines, though, Rochereau's voice remained a light, supple instrument. He had a way of floating through an arrangement without getting a bit of the dust kicked up by the rolling guitars and insistently pulsing percussion on himself. When he's joined by his chorus, which on many of these tracks includes his lover/protege Mbilia Bel, their voices blend sweetly, contrasting sharply with the blasting horn section, led by Rochereau's longtime right-hand man Modero Mekanisi. This period found Rochereau's songs stretching out to accommodate long instrumental passages for dancing, and the tracks on this compilation average somewhere around nine or 10 minutes, giving the various guitarists Rochereau works with plenty of time to stretch their legs and solo.
Two of the greatest Congolese guitarists ever make appearances here. Rochereau had a falling out with Docteur Nico in the late 60s, when the two split from each other to form competing bands, but "Ohambe" finds them working brilliantly together once again-- when Rochereau cries out "Nico, speak!" Nico obliges with a shimmering, gorgeous solo. The occasion of Joseph Kabasele's death in 1983 brought Rochereau together with his greatest rival, Franco, for "Kabasele in Memoriam", which is a highlight in the careers of both men. Rochereau sings beautifully, sometimes in harmony with his old rival, and Franco offers a showcase on both acoustic and electric guitar. Franco was taken by the AIDS epidemic in 1989, and it would have been a shame had the two never recorded together.
As the second disc wears on, a few things become clear: The music was changing around Rochereau, and he had to change with it. This set avoids his Paris studio work with drum machines and synthesizers attempting to stand in for horns, but it still hints at that work in the synths that occasionally drop in for a squiggly solo. More importantly, though, Rochereau spent much of the time covered on the disc living essentially in exile, first in Europe and then in the United States. To his great credit, the singer managed throughout his career to keep more distance between himself and dictator Mobutu Sese Seko than many of his peers, and when living in exile in Paris, he recorded some of his most openly critical songs. The punning title of "Exil-Ley" belies a much more serious message-- the song is Rochereau plainly lamenting his nation's descent into graft and economic collapse. "Le Glas a Sonne", also recorded in 1993, directly indicts Mobutu's increasingly ruinous regime, listing off the great men of Congo and leaving Mobutu out, in effect likening him to the white colonial rulers the country had thrown out decades before.
Rocehreau's musical career largely petered out during the 90s when he lived in the U.S. As his attentions were drawn more and more to the politics and needs of his homeland. When Mobutu fell in 1997, he went back home to serve in the new government. Even so, his cultural legacy seems likely to loom high over his political legacy when the historical record settles. This compilation and its previous volume are the absolute best place for Westerners to begin exploring that legacy. They're by no means a definitive catalog-- this is, after all, a man who released four or five albums a year during the period covered on this comp-- but they gather much of his best work in one easy-to-digest set, and everyone needs a starting place. With its crisp sound, informative notes and impeccable track selection, this is the intro the great artist deserves.
The world has needed a good compilation of this great Congolese singer, and this two-disc set comes close to being just what the doctor ordered, focusing on the 1960s and '70s, when he was arguably at his best and most creative, with his voice emotional and supple, standing out from whatever group was behind him at the time -- and he led some of the classics of the period. At almost 90 minutes, this offers a lot of Tabu Ley Rochereau, with plenty of sublime moments of Congolese rhumba before it morphed into the faster, less delicate soukous. Rochereau could easily command, and does so often, with great songwriting ability (listen to the way the chorus lifts on "Pesa le Tout," for instance -- it's sublime). There are moments of hubris, of course, and not just in the music. The notes claim that Rochereau invented the instrumental break known as the sebene, which, according to many other sources, simply isn't true. But that's by the bye. The man sang like a dream, and these golden years really capture him at his peak: thrilling, and one of the classic African voices.
Tabu Ley Rochereau - The Voice of Lightness I (flac 267mb)
Congo Classics 1961-1971
with African Jazz
01 Kelya 4:44
02 K.J. 4:47
03 Succes African Jazz 3:58
with African Fiesta
04 Pesa Le Tout 4:38
05 Nalembi Nalembi 2:57
06 N'daya Paradis 2:35
07 Tqabalissimo 3:20
08 Mama Ida 3:46
09 Mireille Mwana 3:02
10 Mokolo Nakokufa 4:55
11 Savon Omo 4:41
12 Lily Mwana Ya Quartier 4:06
13 Kasala 3:48
14 Monano 4:38
15 Ana Mokoy 2:59
16 Mokitani Ya Wendo 5:55
17 Christine 6:08
18 Songo +Songo = Songi-Songi 5:05
Tabu Ley Rochereau - The Voice of Lightness I (ogg 145mb)
Tabu Ley Rochereau - The Voice of Lightness II (flac 330mb)
Congo Classics 1972-1977
201 Aon Aon 4:37
202 Kikakango Mpe Libala 7:51
203 Mongalie 5:06
204 Omange 5:01
205 Nzale 5:19
206 Kaful Mayay 7:47
207 Karibou Ya Bintou 5:48
208 Mbanda Nayei 5:21
209 Adeito (1 & 2) 10:06
210 Yombe 7:54
211 Likambo Ya Mokanda 9:39
Tabu Ley Rochereau - The Voice of Lightness II (ogg 157mb)
xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx
Sam Mangwana, born February 21, 1945, is a Congolese musician, born to a Zimbabwean migrant father and an Angolan mother. Mangwana is one of the last of the great Zairean rumba (soukous) vocalists. A former member of such seminal groups as Tabu Ley Rocherau's Africa Fiesta and Franco's TPOK Jazz, Mangwana has steered soukous from the hard-edged sounds of his predecessors. According to the Washington Post, "While his former employers were the masters of the relentless, springy, soukous music of Central Africa, Mangwana employs a lighter, more acoustic, more Caribbean, sound." In a review of Mangwana's 1999 concert in New York, the New York Times took a similar view, writing, "It was gentle-spirited music, perfect for the dancers moving through the soupy summer air." Mangwana's soft-toned approach was equally noticeable during a performance at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., as www.salsamundo.com observed, "In a program rich with influences from Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, The Congo, and Cuba, Mr. Mangwana sang in a rich, weathered tenor about serious issues of oppression and liberation, yet the delightful and engaging lilt of his music conveys optimism and the triumph of love." The son of Angola-born parents who relocated to Kinshasa, Mangwana has been singing most of his life. After formally studying music as a member of the Salvation Army chorus, Mangwana launched his professional career in his mid-teens. By the age of 17, he had become the lead singer and arranger for Tabu Ley Rocherau's Africa Fiesta. In addition to singing with the group for more than a decade, he appeared periodically with other soukous bands including L'Orchestre Tembo, Vox Afrique, and Franco's TPOK Jazz. Forming his own group, the African All Stars, in 1976, Mangwana had his first hit in 1986 when his single, "Maria Tebba," became a major soukous hit. In the more than two decades since, Mangwana has continued to bring his unique style of soukous to the international stage. In 1999, he toured the United States with African All-Stars guitarist Dizzy Mandjeku and OK Jazz Band guitarist Papa Noel. The following year he released Sam Mangwana Sings Dinu Vangu.
The album here contains two albums recorded in the 1970's: Maria Tebbo (1979) and Waka Waka (1978). Sam Mangwana played with and became one of the masters of Rumba music with Franco and Tabu Ley. This is classic Rumba music, magically happy guitars, hopping horns and "let's dance sister" kind of music.
If you have to pick "the classic" Sam Mangwana album, this would be it. He worked with both Franco and Rochereau, so he had the pedigree by the '70s to do whatever he wanted. Mangwana's earthy, rumba-heavy protosoukous is a pleasure to listen to. Each guitar line from Syan M'Benza or Sammy Massamba seems to go on forever, as Mangwana croons (and croon is really the right word) about love and life and girls, girls, girls and the band spurs him on with sinuous and sultry (never either lewd or cute) rhythms. These 1979 tracks are a pan-African textbook, with hints of folk and pop from Angola, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe always bubbling just under the surface. It is the perfect Mangwana album. Plus, the CD includes both the full Maria Tebbo plus another set of tracks from the "almost as good" Waka Waka from 1978
Sam Mangwana - Maria Tebbo (flac 366mb)
01. Maria Tebbo 14:11
02 Tchimurenga Zimbabwe 7:28
03 Bana ba Cameroun 6:57
04 Affaire Disco 7:20
05 Celica-Souvenir 7:42
06 Tika Nasakola 6:29
07 Waka Waka 8:09
Sam Mangwana - Maria Tebbo (ogg 145mb)
xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx