December 29, 2008

Tremendo punto

As I have mentioned before, Sonodisc was never very generous in the information they provided on the sleeves of their albums, and in the little they did provide not always very accurate.
In this case I think they accidently replaced one track by another and forgot to mention this on the sleeve.

All the compositions on this lp by Orchestre African Fiesta are by Roger Izeidi (the short guy in the photo, to the left of Kabasele), except one. The odd one out is "Minge Rumba Fiesta", a composition by Rochereau which on the sleeve is called "Tremendo Punto". This version of a track by Orquesta Aragon is not on this album, but on African 360.071.

The lp contains some memorable songs from the -relatively short- time that African Fiesta was one. A time when Roger Izeidi, Rochereau and Docteur Nico were the heirs to Kabasele's throne. After a row with Kabasele, who (according to some) had retired from music before his marriage in 1963 and/or (according to others) had been kicked out of his own orchestra by the disgruntled trio, about the use of the Surboum African Jazz label (see this post), Izeidi had called on his business contacts and founded a new record label: Vita. All the songs of this lp were originally released on this label.

If I am not mistaken, some of the tracks of this lp have never made it to CD. As it happens, these are the most interesting tracks.
Take the catchy "Contentieux Belgo-Congolais". Although my knowledge of lingala is minimal, I gather the song is about the dispute centred around the settlement of debts from the colonial era (see this article, or this). It makes you wonder why this was never re-released.
"A.M. Decantonio" is another track that never ended up on CD. This is even stranger, as it is to my knowledge the only track from this era featuring Nico on acoustic guitar. I'm not sure though if Rochereau has any idea of what he is supposed to be singing (but then who had - in this era?).

All in all this is a very enjoyable lp from African Fiesta at its best.

African 360.015


Anonymous said...

You're right this is a great album that should have been on CD, only one track, "imama ya daring", made it to an Ngoyarto CD, as far as i know. It was originally a VITA album no 2.000, and maybe the mistake originated there? Thanks for the clarification about the mislabelled "Tremendo punto," which is obvious when you listen to it. Even without knowing Lingala you can tell it's about the band. I will correct my discography of Nico.

Great blog!


Anonymous said...

P.S. Check out "Minge Rumba Fiesta" on the "companion" album orig VITA 1.999 -- on Sonodisc as "Tango ya ba Vieux Kalle no 2" (360.009) for a different version of the same song.


Timothy said...

Music lovers can never thank you enough for the generosity you have shown. This is African music at its best and it's nearly impossible to find on the market. Thank you!

They say it's a cold world said...

Another wicked selection for which many thanks. AM Decantonio is a really interesting track; I don't believe it is only the fact of it being an acoustic guitar that gives it the sound of a Puerto Rican jibaro instead of one of the various Cuban styles that fed so heavily into this era of Congolese music. I think this is the only example I've come across of a jibaro style in African music. Do you agree, or might you have any others?

WrldServ said...

I must admit I hadn't made the connection to Puerto Rico. But I have asked Tabu Ley about the track, but he unfortunately couldn't recall it.
I will dig into this one and let you know in a post when (or if) I come up with more tracks with this remarkable guitar style.

They say it's a cold world said...

The Puerto Rico notion is just that, a notion. I'm responding to it really on a purely sonic level. But the opening bars of the guitar certainly have that jibaro feel. On the other hand it is also a very similar sound to a Cuban "punto guajiro," the musical accompaniment to décima poetry, and there are certainly old Cuban LPs of the kind I imagine might have made their way to Kinshasa that include one or two punto guajiro tracks. It certainly would be interesting to hear about if there was a direct confirmation of a puerto rican influence, though! And thanks again for so many great posts.