A short thin man, Nicholas Kasanda wa Mikalay, died in 1985 at the age of 44 in the central African country, Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo). In his short and intense life, Dr. Nico, as he was known to his millions of African fans, released hundred of singles, played for Presidents, led (very poorly) his own bands and founded record labels. Quite simply he is regarded as one of the most influential guitar players ever to emerge from Africa, introducing a crystalline tone which was often compared to an electronic keyboard, as well as the sounds of the Hawaiian slide guitar to Congolese music. His late 1960’s band African Fiesta Susika in which he led a three guitar attack has been called ‘the finest guitar threesome ever to grace the company of a single band, anywhere’.
Although he was a musical genius, Docteur Nico was a poor businessman. Though he was able to attract great talents to his band, they never seemed to stay very long, citing, ‘Nico’s poor treatment’ and arrogance. Despite this, at his height (1960’s-mid-70s’) Dr Nico toured extensively all across the African continent, pulling huge adoring crowds at every stop. In the constellation of modern Congolese musicians he is considered one of the holy trinity along with Rochereau and Franco.
Herewith is a simply delightful collection of Dr. Nico compositions from the mid-70s that perfectly sums up his guitar playing style. Full of wonderful, melodious and intricate picking, Hawaiian twang and even a few English language rockers, this is a ‘must have’ album.
Enjoy very much. Very often. Very loud.
01 Sanza zomi na mibale
02 Angele ozali wapi
04 Marie Nella
05 Save me
07 Nalingi yo na motema
08 Nazali bloko te
Docteur is in.
This a bonzer record.
Henri Bowane was a founding father of that strain of African music that has now become a heritage of the entire music loving world, soukous. He was a guitarist who played with Wendo Kolosy one of the early proponents and creators of Congolese rumba which later morphed, in the riverside and dark alley clubs of Kinshasa and Brazzaville, into the soukous.
Indeed, so influential was Bowane that we should recall a few of his many accomplishments.
1)He was arguably the first guitar god of Congo, playing long free-twirling lines that came to be known as sebene (seven) in reference to the 7th chord. Discos and dance parties where Bowane played would be interrupted mid-solo by shouts of “Sebene! Sebene!”
2) He was Franco’s first boss and mentor, again arguably, being labeled the man who ‘discovered’ Congo’s greatest guitar player.
3) He owned Kinshasa’s first Cadillac.
Not a bad resume if you ask me.
In the mid-70’s he recorded his sole solo album, which is what he share tonight. What a snorter. What a ripper. What a joy. Rumba, soukous and even an English language mid-60’s heavy garage grinder, are the delights you’ll discover here.
Go forth and listen. (Be prepared to grin!)
01 Sam Ba No
02 Cherie Natou
03 Natali Nato
05 Monoko Ya Mboka
06 Marie Louise
07 Wabon’kum Blues
Strike while the iron is hot. Make hay while the sun shines. Post while you can for in Beijing all this stuff is banned.
Yes for the next week or so I will in the Forbidden City which is not named that for no good reason. Last time I was there nearly every website I’d made friends with over the years was unavailable. Certainly no Facebook, YouTube, WordPress, Blogspot
I will be otherwise preoccupied of course with official business, side meetings, drafting committees and the like, so it is probably a good thing that I will not be detracted.
So before I take that long flight I thought you all might like to groove to some wonderful bubbly soukous. An old favorite, this is a collection I picked in the deserted steet stalls in Bali about 3 days after the terrible 2002 bombings that left so many dead as they partied. Grim way to introduce what is an addictive unavoidably intoxicating dance record of sparkling lilting moving music from Central Africa. Kanda Bongo Man opens with a rip-snorter tune that demonstrates the ‘new wave’ of soukous made so popular by him and other speed fanatics like Loketo a couple decades back. Over the next few tracks we glide safely to a more reasonable pace over several different styles of this guitar-driven dance music. And while there are some shining stars like the aforementioned Bongo Man and Empire Bakuba, really, this is music made by artists not widely known outside of Africa.
Whatever you’re doing today or this weekend, I’ve no doubt you’ll get some great company from this record. Many years from now you’ll find that you can’t get some of these tunes out of your head and you will remember the very day this wonderful disc came into your life!
Adios till next time!
01 Sana [Kanda Bongo Man]
02 Africa [Dave Depeu]
03 Sango ya Mawa [Patience Dabany]
04 Mukaji Wani [Dindo Yogo]
05 Guelo [Guetan System]
06 Pas Moi [Joyce Delly]
07 N’Nanele [Zoukunion]
08 Gueda Guina [Olive’s Gueda]
09 Mosolo Na Ngai [General Defao]
10 Soso ya Tongo [Empire Bakuba and Pepe Kalle]
11 Makoule [Seliko]
S G S