June 14, 2009

Origine Esengo

Returning to the series of posts of singles, here are two EP's on the Columbia label. Originally all the eight tracks of these records were recorded for the Esengo label, which -as I reported before- had started on January 1, 1957.
Four of these tracks are by Orchestre Bantou, which had been started in 1959 by musicians from Brazzaville who had been working in Leopoldville. With the prospect of the independence of the Belgian colony, they thought it might be wiser to return to their side of the Congo river. The heart of the new orchestra consisted of key members of the Rock-a-Mambo orchestra. With a history on the Loningisa label and the OK Jazz, Essous, Pandi and Nino Malapet had created havoc in Leopoldville. As Rock-a-Mambo or combined with Kabasélé's African Jazz and Dewayon's Conga Jazz they produced a stream of brilliant hits on the Esengo label, so they were received as veteran artist when they returned in Brazzaville.
All the four songs were composed by Jean Serge Essous, who also is the lead singer on two ("Padrona de la Musica" and "Una Noche"), and at least three of these -and especially "Una Noche" and "Luiza"- can easily be mistaken for songs by Rock-a-Mambo.

The other half of these two records is for artists which normally will be associated with the OK Jazz. Vicky Longomba had left the OK Jazz to join Kabasélé at the Table Ronde in Brussels, and on returning to Congo had founded his own orchestra, Negro Succès. For this he recruited among the existing orchestras, snatching (amongst others) a young guitarist Léon Bombolo, a.k.a. 'Bholen', away from the Loningisa stable where had just started alongside Franco. In more than one way the two songs by his Negro Succès bare a strong resemblance to tracks by the OK Jazz.

The last orchestra on these two EP's is perhaps the least known. But Kongo Jazz contains some of the most noteworthy, but unfortunately not so well-known artists of Congolese music. And I am not referring to the young rhythm guitarist Lutumba Simaro, who not much later made the move to the OK Jazz. I am, however, referring to Gerard Madiata, a singer who has performed with nearly all the great Congolese orchestras, but has nevertheless remained a solo artist throughout his entire career. And I am referring especially to -in my opinion- the star of these tracks: the unbelievable guitarist Raymond Brainck*. Listen carefully to this highly underrated master. In a future post I will be sharing more wonders by this musical hero....

Columbia ESDF 1407
Columbia ESRF 1415

*his name is spelled "Braing" or "Brainq" on this record, but this must be a mistake.


Joe said...

Man, I love this music. I like rumba and soukous from a lot of eras, but the stuff from the late 50s and early 60s blows me away. I love the sound of the recordings, too. Thanks!

icastico said...



gracenotes said...

Lovely stuff - many thanks. I have 1415 from another source (in lower fidelity), where the track "Una Noche" is listed under the title "Oyeme". I don't know any Lingala, but you can hear the word Oyeme throughout the song. You can hear Una Noche at one point too, though!

Roxana27 said...

excelent... is it also possible to load "amadou balake - afro-charanga", pleeeease ?

WrldServ said...

@gracenotes: The Bantou track is also listed as "Una Noche" in the Esengo catalogue I have, so I think it is safe to assume that this is the right title, - despite the spelling mistakes in Raymond Brainck's name ☺.

@Roxana27: I am working at it, but there is still a cue....Plus so many other great musical wonders to be discovered and enjoyed.

zimb said...

Turns out it seems that there are more mispellings on the name. on the LP LES NOIRS (PATHE MARCONI 2C-054-81818)lists the band leader as Kalonzi Braink; in Rumba on the River Stewart mentions that
his real name was Raymond Kalonji (Kalonzi?) and invented the stage
name Ray Braynck (putting his first name within the last name, but that SACEM or Ngoma spoiled by mispelling the last name Braink.

anyway thank you, and I look forward to hearing more of his work.