Despite the wonderful collection of five CDs on the Buda label (still available, if you look around a bit) and the historic "Soul of Angola" collection on Lusafrica I keep feeling that we've only seen the tip of the iceberg of Angolan music.
Angolan musicians have played an essential role in African music, but Angola hasn't seen the recognition for this. I am referring primarily to the San Salvador group of Manuel D'Oliveira, whose rhythms can still be heard in the music of artists like Koffi Olomide, Josky Kiambukuta and - of course - Sam Mangwana; and through them in many other musical styles. And I am sure other influences are still waiting to be uncovered.
I suspect the long period of 'unrest' (excuse my understatement) hasn't helped.
The title of this lp from 1976, "Folclore de Angola", and the pictures of half-naked girls on the sleeve tell us more about the perverted mentality of the Portugese producers than about the music. Unfortunately there is little or no information on the sleeve, other than the titles, artists and composers. Four of the ten performers also feature on Buda's "Angola 70's (1972-1973)" CD, one (Dimba Dia N'Gola) on "Angola 60's (1956 - 1970)" and one (Sofia Rosa) on "Angola 70's (1974- 1978)".
This is what the sleevenotes of these CD's have to report about the artists on this lp:
Dimba Dia N'gola (or Dimba Diangola), founded in 1963 by Dominguinho, Boano da Silva, Barros and Manecas and one of the first bands in Luanda, was a succesful group that managed to survive for two decades, with a few minor interruptions.
Africa Show was founded in 1969 by percussionist and dancer José Massano Junior, and was one of the most modern groups with electric guitars and an organ (Tony Galvâo) and horns (Nando Tamborino on trumpet). They often backed artists like Zé Viola and Teta Lando. They were disbanded in 1975 for reasons linked to the political troubles. Massano left for Zaïre, but returned to Luanda in the early 1980s and played with the group 1e de Maio.
Super Coba (photo on the right) was the most renowned orchestra from Cabinda, with fans in both Congo-Brazzaville and Zaïre. It was a large orchestra (twenty-five members) with four guitars, drums and a solid horn sections. They sang in lingala, kikongo, french, english and portugese. They were known for their extended tracks with breaks and rhythms changes, and also for their covers of Otis Redding and James Brown songs.
Cabinda Ritmos came to Luanda to record "Cafe" (copied from Franco's version of this latin track) at the Voz de Angola studio. They were persuaded by Dionisio Rocha to stay for a series of very succesful concerts. They sang in kikongo and lingala, with a very strong Congolese/Zaïrois influence.
Ngoma Jazz was founded in Luanda by musicians from the north who had been playing in Quinteto Angolano. Two percussionists from Luanda, Mangololo (tumba) and Caetano (bongos), completed the group. Their songs were in kikongo and kimbundu.
Sofia Rosa was a unique star (see photo on the right) in the constellation of great popular singers. He grew up in the Samba district of Luanda, where he learned the kimbundu language and traditions from fishermen and tradeswomen. In 1963 he joined the Ngongo theatrical group and travels with them to Portugal where he appears on tv. He records his first record (45 rpm) in 1970, and seven follow later. He was a great composer and interpreter of songs in kimbundu, expressing the life and feelings of common people. He became famous for his songs, his extraordinary look and his modest and simple personality. He moved to Lobito in 1973. When in November 1975 the Unita forces took the town, Sofia Rosa, who had never concealed his sympathies for the MPLA, was murdered, probably by Savimbi's troups.
About the other four performers, Musangola, Ndombe Jazz, Kibandos do Ritmo and Os Kotumbas, I have found no information.
I can't wait to hear more music from Angola.....
Roda SRL 5541 or Roda SRL 5541