March 30: Smooth Congolese Grooves

Episode 12 of CAVACHA EXPRESS! will feature some of the most heartfelt crooning in kimi’s collection of Congolese music. Get ready to fall in love to the voices of Madilu System (pictured), Pamelo Mounk’a, and more!

Create a FREE account here to listen LIVE on Wednesday, March 30, 2016, 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST (New York City time zone).

Missed a previous episode? Listen HERE on YouTube!

Later,

Kimi K.

Liner Notes: Episode 11: The 50s

Aired live February 24, 2016, and available here online

Tonight I’m taking us way back to the 1950s and even the 40s—the earliest days of recorded Congolese popular music. It’s quite different from most of what I’ve played so far. Back then, musicians were still closely imitating Cuban music, and some songs were even sung in Spanish. The songs are also quite short—most under four minutes. And, unlike my favorite tunes from the 70s, there are many songs about love as opposed to lamentations.

Congolese partygoers in the 50s, captured by photographer Jean Depara

Congolese partygoers in the 50s at the Oui Fifi, captured by photographer Jean Depara

A plethora of recordings exist from the 50s, and I own very few because I prefer the music styles that evolved later. If you’ve listened to my earlier episodes, you’ll know that OK Jazz is my favorite band, and I don’t even like many of their songs from that time. But recently, I found a compilation of 50s music, and four musicians kept grabbing my ears: Léon Bukasa, Camille Feruzi, Manuel D’Oliveira, and Adou Elenga.

Coincidentally, I next found a song from the 80s that memorializes all of these men, in addition to Wendo Kolosoy. If you’re a fan of Wendo, you won’t hear his music tonight because it’s not really my flavor, but I had to mention him because of his significance to the history of Congolese popular music.

He was one of the first superstars, such that this whole era of music I’m showcasing tonight became known as tango ya ba Wendo—“Wendo’s time.” And you can hear this referenced in songs even into recent times. Which is incredible, considering that at Wendo’s peak of stardom, he stopped performing in response to the Mobutu-led coup, which occurred just weeks after the country’s independence from Belgium in 1960. And he didn’t perform again until the 90s, after Mobutu was finally ousted.

The dapper men of African Jazz

The dapper men of African Jazz

As you listen to the songs tonight, keep in mind that in the 1940s and 50s, both Congos were under colonial domination: by France to the north and by Belgium to the south. And on the eve of independence for both countries, their popular music scene was already going strong, with band lineups constantly changing. In fact, most of the musicians you’ll hear tonight performed with each other at some point, including in OK Jazz.

First up is a song that I fell in love with the first time I listened to it, a few years ago. It’s one of my favorites by far from the 50s. The mighty Joseph Kabasele with “Parafifi.”

So there you heard the suave voice of Kabasele, also known as Grand Kalle. And along with it, the lovely guitar work of Nico Kassanda, who was only thirteen years old. The title he later chose for himself—docteur (doctor)—is much deserved. Next up is a song by African Jazz, the band Kabasele and Nico later formed. And the song is “Lea.”

A very young Dr. Nico working his guitar

A very young Dr. Nico working his guitar


Next up is Camille Feruzi, known for his use of the accordion. When I first heard this song, a line in particular jumped out and got a chuckle out of me: “Okoki kozua mobali lokola ngai te.” If you don’t speak Lingala, you’ll hear the meaning after this song, “Lingale.”

So, what did he say? To borrow from Lou Rawls—you’ll never find… Yes, he declares to Lingale that she won’t find another man like him! And moving right along, of course I can’t seem to make an episode without including OK Jazz, so they’re next! Franco and the fellas actually got their start in the 50s, so it’s only appropriate. OK Jazz with “Mabe Nde Kolimwa.”

Léon Bukasa, kimi's latest favorite singer from the 50s

Léon Bukasa, kimi’s latest favorite singer from the 50s

Next up are a two songs by Adou Elenga. When I listened to his “Tebo” for the first time, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the inspiration for Sam Mangwana’s “Maria Tebbo,” which I played on Episode 3, and lo and behold, it was! Following that will be “Ata Ndele,” which was banned by the Belgian colonial authorities. They probably felt threatened by what it seemed to imply—to borrow from Sam Cooke: a change gon’ come.

For more fun facts about the other songs in this episode, listen here online.

Episode 11 Tracks:

Parafifi – Joseph Kabasele
Lea – African Jazz
Coco – Tino Baroza
Lingale – Camille Feruzi
Mabe Nde Kolimwa – OK Jazz
Merengue – OK Jazz
Tebo – Adou Elenga
Ata Ndele – Adou Elenga
Basi Banso Tapale – Manuel D’Oliveira
Mama Aboti Biso – Manuel D’Oliveira
Elongi ya Cherie – Manuel D’Oliveira
Kenga Mwangandu – Léon Bukasa
Mantare Mwasi Kitoko – Léon Bukasa
Bolingo Na Biso Na Yo Esila Te – Léon Bukasa

Going Way, Way Back to the 50s on February 24

show flyerEpisode 11 of CAVACHA EXPRESS! will feature some catchy Congolese rumba from the 1950s. Get ready for a joyride even further back in time!

Create a FREE account here to listen LIVE on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST (New York City time zone).

Missed a previous episode? Listen HERE on YouTube!

Later,

Kimi K.

Liner Notes: Episode 10: Cavacha Classics

Aired live Jan. 27, 2016, and available here online

The show is back! Now airing the last Wednesday of the month.

Well, it’s been a long time, eh? I didn’t think it would be this long, but I’m back now, with a show that’s a bit shorter and going live only once a month, on the last Wednesday. And I’d like to thank all my supporters near and far for their encouragement to keep this show going.

The main thing that’s been competing with my time is a novel I’ve been writing. This summer I had an amazing writing retreat in Belgium, and I was excited to hang out with some Congolese folks for a weekend in Brussels. But my transition back to New York City, after the green and peaceful countryside of East Flanders, was a bit rough, bandeko.

Congolese music, however, has always been in my heart, in my mind, and in my ears. Since you last heard my voice, I’ve added 150 songs to my collection, including some gems from the 50s, coming up on February’s show. And I was astounded to discover recently that Le Grand Maître Franco Luambo Makiadi set foot in a record store just walking distance from my apartment! More to come on that later.

Yanga-Yanga: cavacha masters. Just seeing this album cover brings me joy!

And as much as I love Franco and OK Jazz, they’re not in my playlist tonight. You see, I realized that despite the name of this show, I haven’t played much cavacha. OK Jazz didn’t do cavacha; they were already old school when it appeared on the scene with the youth bands of the 60s and 70s. Cavacha is a bit faster, a bit wilder than what OK Jazz plays. The guitar melodies that overlay that infectious clave-like beat get me high every time.

But here’s something important to note: if you don’t like the beginning of these songs tonight, just be patient. When you can anticipate that hip-shaking sebene—the second half of the song—it’s the best thing ever.

zaire ghana

Zaïko’s “Zaïre Ghana” album, which features some amazing cavacha.

The songs I’ve chosen for tonight’s episode have more than just cavacha in common. All of the bands also have double names, some of which were song titles of the band they emerged from! Most, if not all, of the bands tonight were recorded by the mega-producer Verckys Kiamuangana. More to come on him in a later episode too.

First up is Zaïko Langa Langa (and no, I didn’t stutter). I’m opening with them because they supposedly invented the cavacha beat. Zaïko from their amazing “Zaïre-Ghana” album with “Zaïko Wa Wa.”

And now we have Orchestre Bella-Bella, one of my favorite groups from this period. It was hard to pick a song for this episode because I love so many by them. Tonight I present to you “Yakani,” which has some very hypnotic call-and-response at the middle.

Bella-Bella

This Bella-Bella album, full of cavacha beats, is AWESOME!!!!


Next up is another of my favorite bands: Orchestre Lipua Lipua, which featured the amazing Nyboma and Pepe Kalle, both of whom came from Bella Bella. Not so surprising, since Bella Bella had a song called “Lipua Lipua.” Here is the group, Lipua Lipua, with “Niki Bwe.”

Next up is a group that no one seems to know much about. They apparently had only one album, and it’s a killer. The group is Orchestre Yanga-Yanga, and the song is “Yoka Olito,” about a dude who needs to take his mama’s advice.

For more fun facts about the other songs in this episode, listen here online.

Episode 10 Tracks:

Zaïko Wa Wa – Zaïko Langa Langa
Pamaphi – Orchestre Shama-Shama
Yakani – Orchestre Bella-Bella
Niki Bwe – Orchestre Lipua Lipua
Yoka Olito – Orchestre Yanga-Yanga
Pele Odija – Mose Se Sengo “Fan Fan”

Save the Date: Wednesday, Jan. 27 – Episode 10 is coming!

Happy New Year, friends!

The wait is almost over. Episode 10 of CAVACHA EXPRESS! will be broadcast LIVE on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM (EST, New York City time zone). This episode will feature Congolese songs from the ’60s and ’70s that use the infectious cavacha rhythm (despite the show’s title, I realized I haven’t played much cavacha so far!!).

To listen to the live show, you must create a FREE account here. If you miss it, the show will be available soon after on my YouTube channel, along with other past episodes.

Later,

Kimi K.

flyer primus mosengo2

Side Note: Nalingi Lingala…and Other Random Things

It’s coming!! Look out for Episode 10 of CAVACHA EXPRESS! in January 2016, topic TBA.

In the meantime, a confession: I’ve been suffering from the blues. Being a language nerd (Lingala, anybody?) and a lover of other random things not shared by many makes for a lonely existence in this world, bandeko.

So I invite you out there, whoever you are, to learn some Lingala with me. If you already speak Lingala, I invite you to see how words you might take for granted have saved my spirit over the years.

Many of my songs from the Congo are about the blues (how apropos). It was easy for me to learn Lingala because so many of the same words are used to describe heartache and sadness.

I’ll start you off slow, with the bolero below by Negro Succès, “Bholen Mwana ya Mama Hélène.” Listen out for these words:

Bolingo=love
Linga/lingi=tenses of the verb Kolinga, “to love”
Boya=reject/refuse/dump
Motema=heart
Pasi=pain
Miso=eyes
Mawa=sad
Senga=beg
Banga=fear

More to come!

xoxoxo,
Kimi

Pesa Ngai Bolingo (Give Me Love)!!

kimiBandeko,

This hiatus is taking a bit longer than expected. But I see that my Cavacha Express! YouTube videos don’t have many views, so I hope you can give me some LOVE and LISTEN in the meantime!

And check out this lovely article on Congolese music recently published by Chimurenga, a publication for pan-African writing, art, and politics.

AND speaking of Chimurenga, starting tomorrow in Paris they will have a pop-up Pan African Space Station with performances by Congolese musicians, including my beloved Nyboma. This is part of the exhibition, “Beauté Congo – 1926-2015 – Congo Kitoko” at the Fondation Cartier. Ah, what I would give to be in Paris this week! Okay, so it appears we can stream in, but still!!!

xoxoxo,

Kimi

Liner Notes: Episode 9: Yo, Leki!

Aired live May 27, 2015, and available here online

This show is the last for the season but I’ll be back in August or September with music by Nyboma and Lipua Lipua, Orchestre Bella Bella, Shama Shama, Pepe Kalle, and more.

Tonight’s focus is ba leki or les petits frères (or little brothers, if you don’t speak Lingala or French). The title of the show, “Yo, Leki,” is simply “you, little brother,” and it comes from the infectious 90s song “Solola Bien” by Wenge Musica. My favorite part is this moment (not to mention the awesome ndombolo dancing and the chimp that’s like what the ?!@!).

Les petits frères of Wenge make us bouger bouger!

Les petits frères of Wenge make us bouger bouger!

It sounds so endearing, like advice from a big brother to his leki, until you realize he’s probably bashing musicians who splintered from his group.

This made me to think about real-life sibling rivalry in Congolese music, and, in a more positive light, the younger generation of musicians who borrowed from their older bros, so to speak.

When I started going to African dance parties many years ago, all I knew about Congolese music was the ndombolo style of Wenge and the like. So imagine my amazement when I played some oldies and discovered they’d been sampled! Especially for those of you who listen to Congolese music but have never heard anything before the 80s or 90s, this should be a special treat.

Bavon Marie Marie and his Negro Succès

Bavon Marie Marie and his Negro Succès: inspiration for the next generation of Congolese musicians

But first we’ll begin with the tragic tale of two brothers. Franco Luambo Makiadi and his band OK Jazz had been on the scene for a while when his petit frère, Bavon Marie Marie, started stealing the spotlight. First up is the song “Etabe ya Mofude” by Bavon and his band, Orchestre Negro Succès.

I started listening to Congolese oldies on a CD somebody gave me, and it had no track names. In those days, I thought Franco and his brother were the same person because their sound was so similar. I wonder if it was due to competition between them. In this next song, “Tonton” by OK Jazz, you can hear echoes of the song I just played.

Franco and the more established Tout Puissant OK Jazz

Franco and the more established Tout Puissant OK Jazz

Bavon Marie Marie, Congolese music's rising star, gone at 26

Congolese music’s rising star, extinguished at 26

The relationship between these brothers unfortunately went beyond playful rivalry. One night, they were arguing over a woman, as the story goes. Bavon, who’d had too much to drink, drove off with her, and his car crashed into a tree.

She lost both her legs. He lost his life. He was only 26 years old.

This next song by OK Jazz is a tribute: “En Mémoire de Bavon.”

In that song we heard the voice of Vicky Longomba. If you’re familiar with Congolese music of the latter years, this name might sound familiar to you. Vicky Longomba was the father of singer, dancer, and former drummer Awilo Longomba, who incidentally sampled many old Congolese songs, including this next one from the early 2000s, “Faux Dossier.”

Awilo Longomba, petit frère & king of samples!

Awilo Longomba, petit frère & king of samples!


Well, if danse makoloba [correction: makolo pente, as in “heavy footed”??] that he sings about that makes you bouger bouger was really a dance, Awilo didn’t invent it. Check this out: Negro Succès’s song, “Nelly na Place na Ngai.”

This next song from the 90s also sampled from [“Nelly na Place na Ngai”]. Just listen carefully to the rap they do near the end. The song is “Ma Chérie” by Nouvelle Génération de la République Démocratique.

And next I present to you what is probably OK Jazz’s most famous song. Incidentally it’s one I don’t like so much, but I’m showcasing it here because Awilo uses a very famous part: “Lelo makambo, lobi makambo. Biso tokosuka wapi-o?” (Today, problems. Tomorrow, problems. Where will it all end?). Of course, that song is “Mario,” featuring the svelte-voiced Madilu System.

For more fun facts about the other songs in this episode, listen here online.

Episode 9 Tracks:

Etabe ya Mofude – Bavon Marie Marie et Orchestre Negro Succès
Tonton – Franco et le Tout Puissant OK Jazz
Libanga na Libumu – Orchestre Negro Succès
Marie Naboyi – OK Jazz
Savon ya Sika Astra – Orchestre Negro Succès
Savon Reward Chez Marsavco – OK Jazz
En Mémoire de Bavon – OK Jazz
Faux Dossier – Awilo Longomba
Nelly na Place na Ngai – Orchestre Negro Succès
Ma Chérie – Nouvelle Génération de la République Démocratique
Ben Betito – Zaïko Langa Langa
Mario – OK Jazz
Gâter le Coin – Awilo Longomba

Wednesday, May 27: Episode 9: Yo, Leki!

Episode 9 of CAVACHA EXPRESS! will feature Congolese music’s petits frères (little brothers)…literally and figuratively. After a face-off between brothers Bavon Marie Marie and Franco of OK Jazz, we’ll listen to the next generation of singers like Awilo Longomba, who paid respect to their “big brothers.”

Create a FREE account here to listen LIVE on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM EST (New York City time zone).

After this episode, CAVACHA EXPRESS! will take a break for the summer and will be back around August. In the meantime, you can listen to past episodes on YouTube.

Later,

Kimi K.