The OK Jazz only released 70 records on the Surboum label. And in this post we will be looking at the first ten of those. All those 20 tracks were composed by Franco.
To explain how the OK Jazz got to record these tracks, one has to go back to the time just before Congo's independence. Kabasele (Kallé) had been asked to perform at the Round Table (Table Ronde) conference in Brussels. But not just Kabasele: Franco too had been asked to join what was supposed to be a selection of the best Congolese music had to offer. Vicky Longomba (who after his return to Congo formed the Negro Succès) had already accepted the invitation. Franco hesitated. It was a difficult time for the OK Jazz; the orchestra hadn't recorded for several months, and spirits were low. And to top it all, key-musician Brazzos also decided he would go with Kabasele. Finally Franco, discouraged, accepted the invitation. Tickets were bought and passports arranged. But his wife, Mama Paulina, intervened. A strong woman, and a prominent member of the OK Jazz fan club, she accused Franco of betraying his style and all that the OK Jazz stood for. When Kabasele and Roger Izeidi came to make the final arrangments for the voyage, she grabbed Izeidi by the tie and told them to go away and leave her man alone; her François was not going!
Franco decided to take charge and found two replacements for Vicky: Mulamba Joseph a.k.a. Mujos and Jean 'Kwamy' Munsi. And to replace Brazzos, Bombolo Léon 'Bholen' and -later- Jean Bokelo were invited.
But a new challenge surfaced, -this time of a technical nature. The Loningisa label had problems with the new 45 rpm format. The quality of the records was unacceptably low.
At the time it was rumoured that rivalry between the OK Jazz and Kabasele's African Jazz were at the basis of Franco's refusal. But in fact Franco had the greatest respect and admiration for Kabasele, and Kabasele was a great admirer of Franco.
In Brussels Kabasele recorded some tracks which were released on a new label called "African Jazz". When he returned to Kinshasa, Franco turned to him for help. Also to show there were no hard feelings between the two men, Kabasele invited Franco to come and record in Europe, and to release his records at his label, which he had renamed to "Surboum African Jazz".
The first ten records released by the OK Jazz on the Surboum African Jazz label were all compositions by Franco.
|001||La Mode Ya Pius Apiki Dalapo||Franco|
|Ngai Mwana Na Weyi||Franco|
|002||Amida Asukisi Molato||Franco|
|Mboka Mosika Mawa||Franco|
|003||Mibali Bakomi Mpasi Na Leo||Franco|
|Pa Roger Na Doli||Franco|
|004||Cha Cha Cha Erique||Franco|
|Soki Ngai Na Bandaki Yo||Franco|
|005||Liwa Ya Wech||Franco||(CD 36508/ 360.070)|
|Na Likuanga Na Seli||Franco||(CD 36508/ 360.070)|
|006||Baiser Na Litama||Franco|
|Tika Toloba Lelo||Franco|
|008||Lopango Ya Bana Na Ngai||Franco|
|Mbanda Mwasi Alingi Ngai||Franco|
|009||Amida Muziki Ya O.K.||Franco||(CD 36508/ 360.070)|
|Motema Ya Fafa||Franco||(CD 36508/ 360.070)|
|010||Muana Moko Mawa||Franco|
The titles in green are the ones that are missing in this collection (new link January 5, 2012). I am hoping someone can provide these.... (fingers crossed)
In the next post about the OK Jazz on Surboum African Jazz I will give you more details about the line-up.