I wish a very happy and healthy 2009!
To begin this new year I have dug up some tracks from one of my favourite artists from the 1950s Congolese music: Léon Bukasa.
Born in 1925, in the town of Likasi in the Katanga region of Congo, Bukasa left primary school, not to go into music, but to start an apprenticeship as a fitter with the Union Minière. Even his move to the capital Léopoldville, in 1947, wasn't inspired by his wish to become a musician. He had found a job as a master fitter.
It was Henri Bowane who discovered his talent and who, in 1949, invited him to the Ngoma studios. Soon Bukasa was one of the major stars of this legendary label.
The tracks I am posting here are from the period between 1954 and 1957. Of the first three tracks I can't trace the catalogue number.
And of the first I don't even know the title. This track features the Greek solovox (organ) player Pileas, who also played in the famous 1951 ode to Nico Jéronimidis "Tokanisa Tata Ngoma" (on pamap 101).
Bukasa sung in three languages: lingala, (ki)swahili and tshiluba. The second track, "Kuwata webe munsha", is in tshiluba and the third, "Bertha roho mbaya", (featuring some great banjo playing) in swahili.
The next two tracks "Rumba Soupareto" and the superb "Bonne Année"(!) were released in 1954 as Ngoma 1496, and are both in lingala.
The sixth track, "Balitaka kunifunga kweli", is the B-side of "Bibi Bertha Mosoko" (Ngoma 1707 from 1956 - on pamap 101).
And the final track, "Simplice wa bolingo", is the A-side of "Bibi Sultani"(Ngoma 1824 from 1957 - on pamap 101*) and features the young Papa Noel (Nedule) on guitar. I think this record was the third Papa Noel recorded with Bukasa. I am just crazy about the saxes on this track. I suspect the second sax is from Albino Kalombo (on the photo from 1955 on the left. Bukasa is second from the right).
*according the notes accompanying this CD the catalogue number was 1786; it is possible that Bukasa released this track more than once, in different languages. 1824 is, however, the swahili version.