Saturday, November 3, 2007

Points of Light




In my last post I described the last twenty years as the "Dark Ages" of Congolese music. I'll admit that this isn't my main area of interest or expertise, and the stuff I have heard is mostly from Paris-based Congo musicians, but I stand by my judgment for the most part. What has the Paris-Congo axis produced in the last two decades? Mainly endless posturing and rehashing of past glories (cf. Soukous Vibration!). Please prove me wrong!

I do concede that there have been a few bright spots in Congo music lately. Of course, I loved the two Congotronics releases on CramWorld. Another artist who redeems Congo music for me is the great Bozi Boziana.

Bozi got his start in Zaïko Langa-Langa, the first and most influential of the "New Wave" bands that burst onto the Kinshasa scene toward the end of the '60s. From there he journeyed through a veritable "Who's Who" of the Congo music world: Isifi Lokolé, Yoka Lokolé, Langa-Langa Stars and the Choc Stars, finally establishing his own Anti-Choc about twenty years ago.

Anti-Choc's first releases were decent enough party music but I think Boziana realized something was missing because around '88 he started teaming up with a series of spunky female vocalists - notably Joly (or Jolie) Detta (with Bozi Boziana, above) and Déesse (or Deyess) Mukangi, and the results were nothing less than sublime. The best of his recordings with these two stellar singers were gathered in two compilations issued around 1997 by Ngoyarto, now sadly out of print.

Here are two recordings from Anti-Choc's early work, enjoyable if rather formulaic examples of the Kinshasa/Paris sound as it existed in the late '80s, featuring light-fingered guitar playing and noteworthy vocals marred by rather irritating synthesizer work. "Adieu l'Ami" is from Anti-Choc (Sterns 1022, 1988):

Anti-Choc - Adieu l'Ami

"Pot Pourri 18 Ans de Succes," from 18 Ans de Succes (Mualaba Lukusa SIC 003, 1988) is a medley of tunes Bozi Boziana recorded with various groups throughout the Seventies and Eighties. The complete playlist is as follows:

1. Tshala (Choc-Stars)
2. Touou Muana CFA (Zaïko Langa-Langa)
3. Diana Ya Mama (Zaïko Langa-Langa)
4. La-Mignone (Langa-Langa Stars)
5. Alena (Choc-Stars)
6. Sandu Kotti (Choc-Stars)
7. Sisina (Choc-Stars)
8. Expplication Sisi (Anti-Choc)
Bozi Boziana & Anti-Choc - Pot Pourri 18 Ans de Succes

Now here's where I prove my point that the collaboration of Bozi Boziana, Déesse Mukangi and Joly Detta marked a quantum leap forward for Anti-Choc and Congo music in general. Bozi Boziana has one of the sweetest, most plaintive voices in African music. Of course, I don't understand Lingala, but he usually sounds like he's hurtin'! But listen to Bozi when he teams up with those two sassy ladies, Joly and Déesse. Talk about synergy! The interplay between the voices, guitar and synthesizer in these tracks is unequaled. The first three tunes here are taken from The Collection Bozi Boziana Vol. 1 featuring Jolly Detta & Déesse (Ngoyarto NG 020), the last two from The Collection Bozi Boziana Vol. 2 featuring Déesse, Scola Miel (Nza Wissa) & Betty (Ngoyarto NG 021):

Bozi Boziana & Anti-Choc w. Joly Detta - La Reine de Sabah

Bozi Boziana & Anti-Choc w. Joly Detta - Evelyne

Bozi Boziana & Anti-Choc w. Déesse - Ba Bokilo

Bozi Boziana & Anti-Choc w. Déesse - Fleur de Lys

Bozi Boziana & Anti-Choc w. Déesse - Lelo Makambo Lobi Makambo

It makes you wonder why more African bands don't make use of female vocalists. Of course, Tabu Ley and Afrisa International had M'Bilia Bel (before their rancorous falling-out), and Franco and TPOK Jazz made use of Joly Detta herself on one memorable recording, but this great cultural resource has generally been underutilized.

Déesse has made a couple of solo recordings (Little Goddess on Sterns [STCD 1040, 1992] was a standout), while providing backup vocals on a number of recordings. Joly Detta, sadly, has kept under the radar, but you can view her in a wonderful recording with TPOK Jazz here.



Discography of Bozi Boziana & Anti-Choc

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good to know : the Glenn Music three volumes "Les merveilles du passé de Bozi Boziana & L'Anti-Choc" are still available, I just bought them in a small african record shop in Paris.

Anonymous said...

koffi olomide
fally ipupa
kaysha and crew
and many more. congo has many good artist

Ronald said...

Bozi Boziana is indeed one of the Congolese singers who keeps on producing good music. Like you I think the golden age of Congolese music was during the 1980's but I also do like a lot of music that is produced today. For instance if you like Franco type of music, Josky, Ndombe Opetum, Simaro and Elba Top made very nice cd's. Other Congolese singers who made good cd's are Modogo Abarambwa, Mirage Supersonic, Alain and Bourro Mpela,Karma Pa (who is called le Prince de la Rumba).

Koffi Olomide recently added two female singers to his band, hopefully he will also use them for his recordings.

John B. said...

Ronald:

Thank you for your input. I found your site:

http://vibesdafrique.proboards83.com/

most interesting.

John

Anonymous said...

well as far as i know this axis goes way beyond the previous 20 years. cehck out tumbele compilation on soundway and you will find extraordinay congolese bands which arrived in the french west indies after a stay in paris, in the lates 60s, where they came to be produced (by Henri Debs?) If i sat down for a minute i could give you a bunch of examples from my limited congolese culture

you are talking about output like teddy sukami and 1980s koffi and all that stuff right ? well thats just one part of the iceberg. you also have to consider the fact that colombian champeta was depedent on that axis for example, or that most of the (re)recordings (wendo kolosoy)of the greatest artists

music is not just about recordings: its also about the clubs, the concerts, the audience, the record shops and labels that, together, keep a music alive