Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rumba Congolaise AKA El Congo Brazza Kin

The buttery music on El Congo Brazza Kin (Marabi/Harmonia Mundi) evokes rather than duplicates the classic Cuban-influenced music of the Congo, which in its heyday carried more than a hint of brashness. The quasi-acoustic approach partners low-key amplified guitars with up-front percussion and vocal harmonies so soothing they make sleep seem laborious in contrast. Most of the core repertoire of songs made famous by African Jazz and African Fiesta is carried here by the Rumbanella Band. This third-generation rumba outfit was formed in 1986 by singers Madou Lebon Mulowayi and Lola Bivuatu, bassist Bolita Mzela Zimbika and guitarist Kankonde "Serpent" Joseph to keep alive the old-time Kinshasa sound. Tabu Ley Rochereau's "Kellya" gets a Hawaiian vocal lilt plus guitar arpeggios with a few slack-key-style pull-offs, while the gliding "Ngalula" probably isn't an ode to hairy female legs despite a typo to that effect in the liner notes. Rumba pioneer Wendo Kolosoy fronts his band Victoria Bakolo Miziki, bringing yodeling vocals and a dash of golden-age Ngoma label-style grit to "Botiakitembé." His reprise of his 1948 hit "Marie Louise" strains his pipes a bit, but Rumbanella fills the vocal cracks with effortless instrumentation. Veteran likembe thumb-piano virtuoso Antoine Moundanda contributes improvised song "Bounsana" about the recent civil war in the Congo that for all its loveliness feels out of place on a rumba disc, as does his "Wendo Likembé" with Kolosoy adding vocals. Think of them as added texture on a nearly flawless release.

Real Congolese rhumba had a lilting rhythm that's almost irresistible, especially when paired with harmonizing voices on top. And this, although it's new, is definitely real rhumba, not the speeded-up soukous that ruled in the '70s and '80s. The sensuous mix of Cuba and West Africa is safe in the sure hands of Rumbanella Band, a young group of musicians who are not only skillful, but imbued with the spirit of history. But this is more than a re-creation — some of the genre's early giants also perform, like Wendo Kolosoy, whose "Marie Louise" (done anew here) was one of the first Congolese rhumba records in 1948. He's wonderful with the veteran band Victoria Bakolo Miziki, but one of the joys is to hear him perform with his old friend Antoine Moundanda (who plays thumb piano) on "Wendo Likemb√©." This is an easy joy of a disc, quietly effervescent, going through some classics of the genre with taste and real elegance, but never forgetting that at its heart this is music for dancing. Perhaps, in the long wake of Buena Vista Social Club, this music is due for a real revival — and this mix of old and young musicians might well be rhumba's Buena Vista. It's certainly every bit as glorious and luscious.

A very thorough article: A golden age reborn: classic Kinshasa rumba.

Various - El Congo Brazza Kin
320kbps, 155mb
REUP2: two separate archives
Pt. 1 on rapidshare or sharebee
Pt. 2 on sharebee


  1. Hello, any chance of a re-up for part 2? The music is wonderful, I just wish I'd found it earlier.

  2. wonderful, thank you