Today it's the anniversary, and not just of D-Day, my sister, King Albert of Belgium, Thomas Mann and Bjørn Borg, but especially of the founding of one of the greatest African orchestras of all time: the OK Jazz. In a future post* I will explore the details of this momentous event.
But for now I would like to share this double album on the Pathé label with a selection of songs from the 1950s and 1960s, when the OK Jazz was just OK, and not yet Almighty.
Of the 25 tracks in this collection 8 are from the 1950s. Of these the oldest are the two compositions by Dewayon; these are from 1956 and are the last two tracks recorded on the Loningisa label featuring singer Rossignol, Essous (clarinet) and Pandi (sax). On January 1, 1957 they left for the newly started Esengo label, where they founded Rock-a-Mambo.
In the other six Loningisa tracks (from 1957 and 1958) the focus is on Vicky Longomba; not only has he composed four of these songs, but he is the lead singer in all six. Not including at least one bolero sung by Franco himself seems to me a regretful omission...
And while on the subject of composers, I would like to point out that there appear to be some 'politically motivated' errors in the composers listed on the sleeve. It is well known that Franco had a tendency to claim songs which he hadn't composed. And in this case I can understand Franco claiming "Na Congo Nazali Refugie Te" and the sublime "Mivais Temoin", which were both composed by 'persona non grata' Kwamy (who accused Franco several times of not keeping his promises**). But I can't figure out why he would claim Michel Boyibanda's "Masua Enani".
I certainly won't complain about the inclusion of the songs featuring Kwamy. I love the songs from the "Bolingo Ya Bougie" era; and "Vincent" and "Na Congo Nazali Refugie Te" are a welcome addition. The same goes for "Zuani Naweli Kitayele", which has been sadly shortened on the CD-version (on CD 36553).
Compared to the re-issues on CD I can only conclude that a lot of the original sound has been lost in the conversion to digital form. The most tragic example of this is the track "Gare A Toi Marie", which really sparkles on this album. In general, I can recommend any of the records of the OK Jazz on the Pathé label for their superb sound quality, - and will be posting some more in the future....
And I can assure you there will be lots more (Tout Puissant) O.K. Jazz in future posts!
Pathé 2C 150 15973/74 part 1
Pathé 2C 150 15973/74 part 2
* the second in the series about the OK Jazz on the Loningisa label will highlight the 'birth' of this orchestra on June 6, 1956.
** I will come back to this in a future post. For more Kwamy I refer you to the podcasts (bottom left of this blog).