Friday, August 22, 2008

Some Somo-Somo




Guitarist Mose Se Sengo "Fan Fan" was a crucial member of Franco's Orchestre TPOK Jazz from 1967 to 1972. In that year he left, and after some time in Orchestre Lovy, founded the first of several orchestras called Somo-Somo in 1974. This band was short-lived, and Fan Fan soon made his way south and east, first to Zambia and then Tanzania, where he played with the legendary Orchestra Makassy, composing some of its greatest hits, notably "Ciska," "Mosese" and "Molema." Moving on to Nairobi in the early '80s , he founded another iteration of Somo-Somo, recording two LPs and several singles with the group.

In the mid-'80s Fan Fan ended up in London where he formed a new Somo-Somo band, which recorded a wonderful LP entitled, of course, Somo-Somo (Sterns 1007, 1985, left). What set this London version of the band apart from the earlier incarnations was that, apart from Fan Fan, fellow Congolese N'Simba Foquis and South African vocalist Doreen Thobekile Webster, it was composed entirely of British session musicians.

I suppose the line-up of the UK Somo-Somo was more a product of necessity than design (Unlike, say, Paris, there is a dearth of Congolese musicians in London), but the tracks on Somo-Somo, mainly reworks of songs Fan Fan recorded earlier in Africa, have a punchiness and vitality lacking in many of the more formulaic Paris productions. The extensive use of saxophones really sets it apart - talk about making lemonade from lemons!

Somo-Somo has long been out of print. For some time I've wanted to digitize it and make it available here, but wouldn't you know? Moos, over at the blog Global Groove, has beat me to it! You can download it here.

However, I have two more hard-to-find Fan Fan tracks for you, apparently recorded around 1983 during his sojourn in Kenya. I have no idea what the lyrics of "Kimoze-Moze" (
Editions FrancAfrique EFA 015) are about but the chorus does seem to share a theme with Fela Anikulapo-Kuti's classic recording "Lady." Musically, of course, the songs have nothing in common:

Mose Fan Fan et son Orchestre T.P. Somo-Somo - Kimoze-Moze Pts. 1 & 2

And here's Fan Fan's cover of Pamelo Mounk'a's classic tune "l'Argent Appelle l'Argent" (Editions FrancAfrique EFA 013):

Mose Fan Fan et son Orchestre T.P. Somo-Somo - l'Argent Appelle l'Argent Pts. 1 & 2

You can get Pamelo's original here.

An excellent overview of Fan Fan's career is available on the CD Belle Epoque (RetroAfric RETRO 7CD), issued in 1994 and available here. Several recent recordings by this consummate professional are available from Sterns.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thx cool stuff.Do u have some malian and guinean musics ? i really like them .

Anonymous said...

EXCELLENT music,as usual.
Thank you very much...
Keep goin'...You have one of the best blogs and I'm happy to find it!
Many greetings from Greece,

Anonymous said...

it seems Tanzania is the home of good african music! mose Fan Fan was also there. More tanzanian tracks please, extracts from mbaraka mwinshehe, Les wanyika, Simba wanyika, les Volcano, Vijana jazz, Mlimani Park, Och Makassy, Maquis, Nuta Jazz, Msondo, cuban Marimba, and many others

Ambiance Congo said...

Well you have blown me away again. Pamelo Mounk'a 's song has been one og those that has lived in my head fro over 20 years. I had never heard Fan Fan's version.
Now I'm going to have to put up a few of "Pablito's" songs performed by African Fiesta...

Anonymous said...

Great post. Thanks! L'Argent is one of those virulent ear worms that, once it is in your head, is hard to displace. At least now I have an alternative version to entertain me.

rohndawson said...

Super Diamono in 1975, and has had a number of smash hits with the group in the years since. Pène's lyrics are notable for their concentration on social issues as opposed to the praise singing that characterizes much African music.
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rohn
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