donderdag 3 mei 2018

Reddy Amisi

His real name Namwisi Ngoy, alias Reddy Amisi said Bailo Canto, was born May 5, 1960 in Kinshasa in a family of eight children. He is married and father of four children.

Reddy Amisi debuted in 1975 as a singer in the group Chem Chem Yetu. The following year he accepted a role as choirboy in the group Sambole Master Ngombe. Then he moves successively in three groups of young people: Juvenil (1977), Likamuisi (1978) and No Lingwala (1980). In the latter group, Reddy Amisi met Koffi Olomide, who intruduced him to Papa Wemba. Wemba was so impressed by his skills as singer and performer that he invited him to join his band Viva la Musica.

There he develops quickly and becomes known with hits like "Kotida" (1983) and "Lize Paradis" (1985).
In 1986 he accompanied Papa Wemba on his first major tour to Japan and his first solo LP appears in 1987 with Viva la Musica as backing band.
In 1989 Papa Wemba started to promote his global career as singer. Alongside Viva la Musica he starts with the band Molokai International. Reddy is one of the few Zaireans included in Wemba's international lineup.

In 1990 his second solo album "Queen Lina" appeared, again backed by Viva la Musica. When in 1992 a large part of the band broke with Viva la Musica due to dissatisfaction with Wemba's leadership - and formed the Nouvelle Generation de la Republique Democratique - Reddy Amisi remained faithful to Wemba. But since that moment he focussed more attention to the development of his own solo career. From 1993 he released several solo albums under his own name although it remains the "Viva la Musica" influence looms large.

Although their relation stays well, in 1999 he breaks with Papa Wemba and records a joint CD in Paris with former Viva co-vocalist Stino Mubi.
After the recordings were finshed Reddy Amisi went back to Kinshasa and in December of that same year he presented his own orchestra La Casa do Canto for the first time at the Congo Fair of the Grand Hotel Kinshasa. The recruitment for the new orchestra took place in Bandalungwa commune where he chooses to set up his headquarters. He creates his own new sound with "Compteur a Zero", his first album with La Casa do Canto in 2003. The album was well received by the Kinois-public and was followed in 2006 by the album "Ligne Droite", a live CD/DVD in 2009 and the superb "Likelemba" in 2010.

After the death of Papa Wemba in 2017, there was some speculation in the Congolese media about a possible merger between La casa do Canto and Viva la Musica in order to immortalize the famous Papa Wemba. Answering Naty Lokole's (Digital Congo, August 20, 2017) question about this probable fusion Amisi answered (..) I don't want to dwell on this issue and concentrate on writing songs for my new album (..). Hopefully this proces goes smoothly and will their soon appear a new Reddy Amisi album on the market. His fans are looking forward to it !


vrijdag 16 maart 2018

Ricardo Lemvo

Ricardo Lemvo was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His roots reach all the way to San Salvador in northern Angola where his grandfathers, Don João Matantu N’lemvo and Andrade André, were born. He was eight years old when he first realised that he wanted to persue a musical career. In Kinshasa the capital of the Congo, he lived next to a buvette (bar). Bombarded day and night with Congolese rumbas and Cuban music from the bar's loudspeakers, he memorised all of the songs and their melodies, imagining himself in front of an orchestra. He didn't tell his mother of his dreams because music was not a 'real' profession. 

At the age of 12, Lemvo was sent to a Catholic boarding school in Gombe Matadi, 120 miles south of Kinshasa. Gombe was a 'college town' with four schools by Congolese and Belgian priests. It was a place where parents sent their children to keep them away from the temptation of the big city.

Although exposed to Cuban music since childhood, his formal introductian took place during one of the school breaks. His cousin, Hetman Ne-Kongo, had a huge record collection. He spent hours listening to Orquesta Aragon, Arsenio Rodriguez, Sonera Matancera and Abelardo Barroso. At the time he did not understand the lyrics, but the rhythms, the melody and the spirit of the music touched him deeply.
   Arsenio Rodriguez - Papaupa
Another cousin, Jose Bipock, helped him to get his first job as a singer in a band called Mira Mira. This was a garage band of 13 and 14 year old kids trying to be hip. The oldest was the 17 years old bandleader, who went by the name of Laghos El Dorado Le Sentimental. Laghos was a guitarist who walked with a limp and played mean solo licks.
Mira Mira hired Lemvo as a rock/rhythm & blues singer. His cousin told Laghos that he was perfect for the job because he spoke fluent English. Nothing could have been further from the truth. He spoke some English but it was certainly not fluent. he was assigned two songs: James Brown's 'Papa's got a brand new back' and Otis Redding's 'Direct me', which he sang in phonetic English, but what he really wanted to sing was Afro-Cuban music. Mira Mira performed only Congolese rumba and American soul music, and his brief career ended when he went back to school.
He joined his father in the United States in the summer of 1972. In college he began collecting Cuban records and met many French-speaking Africans who shared his passion for Cuban music. Most were 'purists' who did not like the salsa from New York, unless it was Johnny Pacheco. To many African aficionados of Cuban music Pacheco was a god because he played the son montuno and charanga style that is revered through the continent. The influence of Cuban music in Africa is immeasurable. When Cuban music travelled back to Africa it was instantly recognized and embraced.
During the early eighties Lemvo discovered and also felt in love with, Mexican rancheras. He even participated in singing contests backed by mariachi bands. In the beginning he encountered many obstacles. He had a nine-to-five job while persuing a degree in political science and dreaming of becoming an international lawyer. The music was still a hobby. However, the closer he got to graduation the more disillusioned he became about law school.

The Los Angeles salsa scene of the 1980's was vibrant. There were many local bands performing at venues such as Candilejas Night Club and Riviera. The most prominent group was Orquesta Versailles featuring two excellent Cuban musicians: Rodolfo 'Fito' Foster and Jesús Alejandro Pérez ‘Niňo Jesús’. He was awestruck by Niňo Jesúversatility. He not only sang, but played the flute, tres guitar and was an accomplished arranger. They soon became friends and Niňo Jesúplayed an important role in Lemvo's musical development. In 1982 Ricardo Lemvo recorded his first - almost forgotten - 45 rpm single 'Amor de Juventud' with the help of his new Cuban friends Fito and El Niňo Jesus.
In 1990 Ricardo Lemvo formed Makina Loca in order to combine the two schools of music he adores: Congolese rumba and Cuban Son Montuno. This idea was not new. The foundation had been laid by the founding fathers of Congolese rumba Grand Kallé & African Jazz, Tabu Ley, Dr. Nico Kasanda and Franco's T.P.O.K. Jazz. In the 1950's and 1960's, Congolese bands were performing Cuban songs in phonetic Spanish as well as adapting the arrangements to fit Congolese languages. This is how Congolese rumba and soukous came to be.

When Lemvo recorded his first album Tata Masamba in 1996, he asked ‘El Niňo Jesús’ to take care of the musical arrangements. He also  participated by writing a song for the cd, playing keyboards, bass, flute, tres guitar, and singing background vocals.
The album created a strong underground-buzz among latin and world music aficionades. After the success of this first album Lemvo signed with Putumayo Artists and released two albums on this labels: Mambo Yo Yo in 1998 and São Salvador in 2000.
Lemvo has since toured Europe several times and performed in some of the most prestigious venues in North America including Lincoln Center in New York and Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl. He shared stage with some of the greatest names in Latin and African music, including Sam Mangwana, Papa Noël, Chucho Valdés, Willy Colon, Israel “Cachao” Lopez, Celia Cruz, Oscar D’Leon and Elvis Crespo. His songs have been performed and recorded by susch artists as Colombia's Joe Arroyo, Orquesta Revé from Cuba and the Russian band Tres Muchachos.


vrijdag 19 januari 2018

Boy Gé Mendes

          In 1953 Gerard Mendes was born in Dakar, birthplace of a large number of Cape Verdean people. There he grew up among a colorful community of Malians, Senegalese, Guineans... and of course, Cape Verdeans. Attending a catholic school, he discovered his liking for singing, which he developed throughout parties and village festivals. Later Gerard gained stage experience in several Dakar's night-clubs as the Black & White, The Marseille, The Alabama and in some disreputable bars. But who cares! It felt good playing live and making some money.
In that period his repertoire consisted of a mix of styles ranging from popular Beatles and Rolling Stones songs, to Rhythm & Blues, Salsa and Caribbean music styles. He sang in French and in phonetic English or Spanish. In 1967 when he founded together with one of his brothers his first band -The Beryls- slowly his plans started to take shape.  It marked the start of an exciting period of travelling to perform in bars, clubs and on festivals all over Senegal. After a number of years in which he further developed his musical skills, Gerard decided to broaden his horizon and left for Paris. In the lively Parisian Afro-Caribbean music scene he met several musical compatriots. This led in 1977 to the creation by Gerard, his younger brother Jean Claude and some friends among who Emmanuel Lima, from a 100% Cape Verdean band "Cabo Verde Show". The fresh and modern sound of the new band hit a sensitive string in the Cape Verdean diaspora in Europe and soon Cabo Verde Show became the most popular band in the Cape Verdean communities in France and the Netherlands. The creation of Cabo Verde Show marked a decisive step in the musical career of Gerard Mendes. Through the musical encounter with fellow countrymen of this Dakar-born Cape Verdean with his predilection for so many different musical styles, the desire to write songs in his native Cape Verdean Creole language aroused. We can hear the result of this musical change on the second Cabo Verde Show LP, which contains four compositions by Gerard Mendes written in the Creole language, which were all well received by the Cape Verdean community.
In 1980 he leaves Cabo Verde Show to form a new group together with his brother Jean-Claude: "Mendes & Mendes". The new formation is less successful then Cabo Verde Show, but Gerard wants more individual space to refine his talents and develop his musical desires.
A few years later, Gerard Mendes finally continues completely solo under the new artist name: "Boy Gé Mendes", the pet name he got as a young boy from his youth friends in Dakar. It is under this name that he recorded the song "Grito di bo fidje", that soon after will become the first international Cape Verdian music hit.
The success of Grito de bo fidje led to a period of intensive touring en performing in Europe, Africa and Latin America. During his travels, among which visits to Brazil, New York, Senegal and Cape Verde and the Netherlands, he enjoys the various musical atmospheres, sounds, themes and colours in the various countries.   In 1995 he visits Rotterdam in the Netherlands - the main port of Europe and a city with a large Cape Verdean community. There he records the maxi single CD "Sururu" for the local Cape Verdean music label "Atlantic Music". The four songs on this mini album are the first reflection on the passed period.
The following year, during a visit to Cape Verde he meets his old pal Manu Lima again. For the first time in more than fifteen year, the two friends go to into the studio to record a new album "Di Oro" that is released in 1996.
The return to Cape Verde  pay off since the following year Boy Gé releases "Lagoa" a real musical traveloque containing incredible musical nuggets - Na tchon, Joia, Beijo de longe, Pampario, Cumba ieto, Choros, Ayuweh - in which the many influences of the past years interwine.
As soon as Lagoa came out he decided to leave Nice to settle in Cabo Verde, the archipelago of his ancestors. There the Dakar-born Cape Verdean traveller finally finds rest. In Mindelo he is inspired by the reality of a country where he had never lived before. New themes emerge and lead to his most Cape Verdean album "Noite de Morabeza" which came out in 1999. A less travelling album but with the same elegant- ,fluid- and suave sound that is characteristic for Boy Gé Mendes music.
Did things come full circle after his homecoming? I don't know but what strikes me is that he did not release a new album after 1999. His many fans will therefore have to content themselves with his live performances, because he still does. Happily he did participate in the 30 year anniversary album of Cabo Verde Show.

And so, in 2017, he participates in the many performances of Cabo Verde Show in the context of the 40-year anniversary of the band. But... it remains a meager consolation, because it is more than time for a new album by this fine artist.


vrijdag 4 augustus 2017

Gnonnas Pedro 1943 - 2004

Gnonnas Pedro, also known as The Baobab of Benin music was born in Cotonou on January 10, 1943 as Pierre Soussou Gnonnas Kwasivi. When he grew up Cuban music was extremely popular in the bars and clubs of Cotonou and Porto Novo, the Capital of Benin. Inspired by bandleaders like Ignacio Blazio Osho [Orchestra Las Ondas] and Théophile do Rego dit El Rego [El Rego y sus Commandos], he founded his first band [Gnonnas y sus Panchos] in the mid 60’s.

Gilles Sala recognized his talent and contracted him for Riviera Afrique, part of the French Barclay label. In 1966 Rieviera Afrique released his first 45 rpm EP. The record contained four songs and was well received. "Gnonnas Pedro y sus Panchos will make thousands of dancers happy with his record", wrote the enthousiastic Gilles Sala on the back of the cover. After his first EP, Gnonnas Pedro released another two successful EPs on the Riviera Afrique label.
In the late 60's Gnonnas Pedro broadened his musical horizon by listening to - among others - American Blues, Highlife and local music. It resulted in Pedro's popularization of the Agbadja-style, named after a drum in the Mono region, that he associated with his Afri-Cuban influences. This Agbadja moderne will become the rythmic basis of his music so much that the invention of Agbadia is attributed to Pedro. He traveled extensively with his band Les Dadjes in the region and visited Togo, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Senegal. It was in this period that he recorded one of his biggest hit songs: Dadje von o von non.

Gnonnas Gilles, son of Benin's most famous singer Gnonnas Pedro performs his fathers song "okpo videa bassouo". This video was shot by film maker Leigh Iacobucci at nightclub Djembe Live in Cotonou, Benin on a hot and humid night in April of 2008.

Throughout the 1970’s he was accompanied by the Dadjes Band, with which he recorded about fifteen albums released in Benin, Nigeria, Ghana and France. The famous Africa tei Cuba clearly indicates where its influences originate, straddling several Atlantic cultures. The title of Silvestre Mendez, the classic Yiri yiri boum became after the ‘treatment’ by Gnonnas Pedro a veritable Pan-African success of the early 1980s. In the same register and on the same album El Cochechivo is among his best Afro-Latin productions. In the following years he continued his succes with songs like La musica en verité en La combinacion.

In the mid 80’s he signed with Sylart Productions, where he released two albums, Mimi Pinson and Les femmes d’abord. This fruitful association made it possible to rediscover the talents and the vocal flexibility of one of the great voices of Benin. His passion for Afro-Cuban music and Salsa was rewarded in 1996 when he became one of the lead-singers of Africando, the great Afro-Cuban project of producer Ibrahim Sylla, replacing Senegalese Pape Seck. In 1999 he released his first and only CD, the varied, alternating album Agbadja. On this album Gnonnas Pedro again shows his great great command of different styles ranging from Highlife, Agbadja and Calypso to Cuban

Guanguanco and Charanga. On August 12, 2004, Gnonnas Pedro died of cancer. In benin he received a national funeral that was right to his great significance for the music in Benin, Africa and the african diaspora.
(Main source: Gnonnas Pedro: La belle époque by Florent Mazzoleni).

Discography (CD & LP)



Discography 45rpm