Bakolo miziki

Gelukkig Nieuwjaar – Bonne Année – Best wishes

We kick off the year with some bakolo miziki, originally recorded for the Opika label in 1954.
On the line-up we find a singer from Congo-Brazzaville – Jacques Elenga Eboma – and the (later) African Jazz members Albert Taumani, Charles Mwamba (Déchaud) and possibly a very young Nicolas Kasanda (Docteur Nico). In the video we can hear the rework of the song by Gandou Gérard and his Orchestre Espérance Eboma De Brazzaville.

 

In Lingomba Ya Fiere  the singer tells he is proud to sing a song from his own culture (Nzembo na ngai),
along some musicians from the other side of the river (Léopoldville).

(chorus from the original song) *thanks to Pie-Aubin Mabika*

A yo Olélaka é
Lingomba moko ya fièré mama
Ya eboma Mwana Odilo
Lingomba moko ya fièré mama
Eboma espéransa

Image   Jacques Elenga Eboma in 1971, (©) Star du Congo

For more background on Jacques Elenga Eboma, check this excellent article on Star du Congo, coming from Clément Ossinonde (French only).

Preview of the Grand Kalle booklet (3): The story behind Parafifi

If people would ask me which song to play to seduce their loved one, I would say Joseph Kabasele’s Parafifi. Few people know that there actually exists at least three versions of this beautiful rumba.

For the orginal version of Parafifi we have to go back to the early fifties, before l’Orchestre African Jazz made its official debut. Joseph Kabasele started performing and recording for the Opika label around 1950. At the same time, a very young Nicolas Kasanda wa Mikalay (Docteur Nico) and Nico’s older brother Charles Mwamba (Déchaud) came into the picture. Kabasele was eager to work with these two talented guitarists. The Belgian tenor sax player Alfons ‘Fud’ Candrix – at the time a session player for Opika – was in the game too. His merit? Being the one who introduced the saxophone in Congolese rumba. The Belgian Gilbert Warnant – who was working as a recording engineer and producer for Opika – was in the early Parafifi session too, adding a Solovox organ touch to the tune. In short, this fivesome – a mixture of Congolese and Belgian musicians – was, for the most part, responsible for recording the earliest version of the song Parafifi in 1952.

According to a 45 record on the label Pathé where this song is featured on, Parafifi was made under the name Kabaselle et son ensemble Saxo Fund Candrix – hence the error on the sleeve – (see picture below). Vinyl aficionados can find this version on the vinyl compilation with the misleading name African Jazz 1960. Misleading because it features 8 tracks which were recorded for the Opika label, the company that closed down in 1957. Or you could find the Pathé Marconi 45 record that was released in the 60s (see picture below). I would love to include this version as a streaming, ripped from my own vinyl copy. Unfortunately, due to copyright control from Sterns Music who feature this song on their wonderful anthology on Joseph Kabasele, I cannot upload it on Soundcloud.

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There exists another version of Parafifi. Thanks to YouTube-user Jimmy Lusianda Mawete we can enjoy this remarkable version (see clip below).

 

It has a slower rhythm than the version I mentioned and Fud Candrix’s saxophone is nowhere to be heard. The studio set-up seems more primitive so you could draw the conclusion that this is a a version made in the fifties. Then again, the piano we hear in this composition only got his place in the l’African Jazz songs in 1961, when Manu Dibango joined the band. Lots of mysteries to be uncovered…
If anybody has more info about the recording that is on YouTube, feel free to share in the comments.

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Scan from 78 shellac: Rumba on the river, Gary Stewart, p.39

 

Parafifi last version

The version you can hear on the Planet Ilunga vinyl anthology on Le Grand Kallé & l’African Jazz features the most recent version of Parafifi. It was re-recorded by Joseph Kabasele in the sixties and has been released on Kallé’s Surboum African Jazz label.The song oozes romanticism and can be considered a homage to the beauty of women. ‘Pour la petite histoire’, Parafifi is sung to Jeanne Félicité Safou Safouesse, the first female announcer and journalist on Radio Brazzaville. During 1940-1950 she was a star in both the Congos.  Kabasele expresses his love for her in a superlative way.

Update: according to this radio interview with Jean-Pierre François Nimy Nzonga, author of Dictionnaire des immortels de la musique Congolaise moderne, we thank the excellent guitar in this last version, who is 2 minutes longer than the original, to André Kambete (Damoiseau).

Félicité, mwana mwasi suka botembé
Oya lelo obebisi mokili awa oh
Namopanzi tala elengi ya paradizo
Namipesi nyonso se na yo

Preview of the Grand Kalle booklet (2): the story behind Lipopo Ya Ba Nganga

‘Lipopo ya ba Nganga’ is another magic Congolese production from the Souvenirs from the Congo 2LP. The song captured me, as it was different from what I was hearing in most Kalle-compositions. Lyric-wise, this is one of Kabasele’s strongest efforts.

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Natiya mwa loléya na posi
Ekobima ngai awa nakozonga wele wele
Chèque na ngai ko esila kala
Mibayu nadefaka bakanga pointage kala
Mboka ko moko kombo ebele
Kinshasa Kini Malebo Lipopo Léoville eh *

In the sixties, after the independence, Joseph Kabasele composed a song that captured the zeitgeist of post-colonial Kinshasa (Léopoldville). The title of the chant, ‘Lipopo ya ba nganga, means loosely translated ‘The magic of Kinshasa’. Kalle describes the fixation on escapism, instant gratification and consumption in urban life. It now can be interpreted as a social commentary against the hedonistic way of life in former Léoville. The translation of the last line* sums it up rightly: a single city, yet many names: Kini Malebo, Lipopo, Léoville…

The picture with the weird dancing couple shown above is the standard front cover of the Série des nouveautés, a series of 45 rpm ep’s on the legendary Congolese label Ngoma. It gives a glance of the first popular bars in Kinshasa during the vibrant fifties. Orchestras from the likes of Kabasele’s African Jazz, Franco’s OK Jazz or Rock-A-Mambo were performing in those bars. The pictures below are snapshots of the nightlife in Kin La Belle – another Kinshasa nickname – during the 1950s and 1960s. When the modern world became more accessible to Congolese people, albeit the wealthy ones. They are all made by Jean Depara, an Angolan photographer who moved to the Congo in the early fifties.

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Preview of the Grand Kalle booklet (1): the story behind Jamais Kolonga


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Jamais Kolonga* has to be one of my favorite songs from Grand Kalle & l’African Jazz. I always go back to this little earworm. Edouard ‘Clari’ Lutula’s wonderful clarinet finesse is the one to blame for I think. Let me tell you the story behind this warm melody.

Mama fioti kanga munu e (2x)
Jamais kolonga simba ngolo e
Jamais kolonga simba munu e

Jamais Kolonga, recorded and composed in the early sixties by l’African Jazz guitarist Tino Baroza, tells the story of Jean Lema. This young Congolese had the idea to let Joseph Kabasele and his l’African Jazz play at the wedding of the daughter of his Flemish chef – Lema was working for the Congolese transport company Otraco. The ceremony took place in the white district of Port-Francqui, Kasaï. Kabasele and his orchestra were stranded in Port Francqui since they missed their boat. As they were in transit, the band accepted the offer and put on their best costumes. During the wedding party, Jean Lema stood at the bar, observing the people. Suddenly he was entranced by the way a European lady was dancing. Jean Lema asked her husband if he could dance with her. In the colonial era of Belgian Congo where even different checkouts in the supermarket segregated black from white people, this was unusual, to say the least. Nevertheless her husband approved and so it goes that Jean Lemba was the first black man who danced with a mundele, a white person. The legend goes that after his bolero all the white people were applauding. The band gave Jean Lema a pseudonym and a song with lyrics in Lingala and Kikongo after his daring adventure: ‘Jamais Kolonga’ which means ‘never to win’.

Sources:

http://radiookapi.net/emissions-2/le-grand-temoin/2011/10/10/jean-lema-mon-plus-grand-souvenir-est-davoir-annonce-lindependance-du-congo-la-radio-nationale/

– David Van Reybrouck, Congo een geschiedenis, p.238

* At the end of the radio interview with Jean Lema on Radio Okapi you can hear a slower version of Jamais Kolonga.

Sneak Peek

Go and get your very own copy here. Now you can finally put on your dancing shoes while reading some great stories of Grand Kalle that you can find in the booklet.

insedeopedDEF

Etymology

In June 2004, “ilunga” was reported as being a Bantu word meaning “a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time”, and – in the opinion of 1,000 linguists surveyed on the subject – the world’s most difficult word to translate.