Aired live March 4, 2015, and available here online
Tonight’s episode features yet another one of my favorite singers, Josky Kiambukuta, during his career with OK Jazz. If you’ve listened to earlier episodes, you know that OK Jazz is one of my all-time favorite bands from the Congo.
I have to make an aside about this band, which had the great Franco Luambo Makiadi as its leader. When I’ve mentioned to some Congolese folks that I love OK Jazz, I’ve gotten distasteful looks. As one person put it bluntly: Franco destroyed other bands. You see, despite Franco’s amazing talent, he seems to have felt threatened by the competition, and as a result, snatched up talent where he could, creating his own empire of sorts.
Surely, if I had been the leader of one of those other bands, such as Trio Madjesi or Les Maquisards, I too might despise Franco. But, being far removed from the drama in so many ways, when I listen to OK Jazz, I only hear good music. I hear Lutumba Simaro’s poetry in the lyrics, even if I can’t always understand the words. I hear the infectious call-and-response between the horns, guitars, and voices. And oh, those voices—blending in such smooth harmony! Franco was genius in the lead singers he showcased: Ntesa Dalienst, Youlou Mabiala, Madilu, and Josky, to name a few.
And it’s not just me who thinks so. I once heard that OK Jazz had a performance in Kenya, and Josky and my other favorite, Ntesa, were absent. The crowd demanded their presence, and I would have been right there with them. It just goes to show you—we can come from different cultures, with different languages and tastes and aesthetics, and yet, we can recognize something incredibly special in a voice like Josky’s, with its incredible range.
Speaking of, it was difficult to pick songs for tonight’s show, since I love so many by him, so if you enjoy what you hear tonight, there’ll be more to come!
And, unlike most my favorite Congolese singers from this period, Josky is still living!! That means there’s a chance I can hear this great man sing LIVE, for real…o Nzambe, oza yoka??
First up is a song that first led me to the wonders of Josky’s voice, ten years ago now, called “Serment” (oath).
Nakopesa yo motema na ngai (I’ll give my heart to you)…ah, a song about good love, and one of the few that I have by OK Jazz. I started us off on that note because it goes downhill from here, folks! But if you don’t understand Lingala, hopefully Josky’s voice will carry you away and give you good feelings, like in this next one, “Vaccination”…a prevention not against the flu but rather, worries.
Next we have the song, “Tokabola Ba Sentiments.” If you don’t know what that means, it’s a good thing if you’re trying to feel uplifted tonight, because this is also a sad song. But you wouldn’t know that from the beat.
Next up is “Mbanzi Ya Kamundele,” which I believe is a composition by Lutumba Simaro, who was known as “the poet.” And you can definitely hear the alliteration and rhyme scheme in the lyrics. For example, “Mwasi akendeke pe akoki kozonga…nyonso se na Nzambe” (my woman’s gone away, but she might come back…it’s all up to God).
This next song is called “Alita.” Oh, ngai naleli, nabemisa nzoto, o lisuma! Kasi, tango sebene ekoya, nakosepela pe nakobina mingi, oy!
For notes about the other songs in this episode (and to hear more of Kimi’s attempts at Lingala!!), listen here online.
Episode 4 Tracks:
Serment (Kikam) – OK Jazz
Vaccination – OK Jazz
Tokabola ba Sentiments – OK Jazz
Proprietaire – OK Jazz
Mbanzi ya Kamundele – OK Jazz
Alita – OK Jazz
Momi – OK Jazz
Decision Echangé Maloba (Mbawu Nakorecuperer Yo) – OK Jazz