Not too long ago I stumbled upon a CD by Jose Missamou called "El Salsero De Brazzaville a Cuba". Going by the titles I was tempted to assume this was a digitization of an lp which over time has grown on me. Luckily I had the good sense to listen to the CD before making the error of buying it.
And by this I don't mean the CD is rubbish. It's okay, - but not as good as the lp. And neither is it a digital version of this unique lp.
The lp "Jose Missamou canta El Salsero de Brazzaville" is unique for various reasons. The first, and most obvious, is the incredible hyperspace sound. Echoing horns, ringing piano: this is not one of the many prefab NY, Fania-style productions!
And then there is the presence of a backing vocalist of great repute: Ntesa Dalienst, of T.P. O.K. Jazz, Grand Maquisards and Vox Africa fame. A gentle man among gentlemen, one of the most likeable personalities in Congolese music, - who regretfully died in 1996.
Jose Missamou is also, unfortunately, no longer with us. He died almost exactly 10 years ago, on December 22, 1999, at the age of 55.
As far as I have been able to ascertain, the partnership between Missamou and Dalienst only lasted two albums. The other album is titled "Ritmo de Africa" and is probably from the same period. I hesitate to suggest it may be from the same recording session, mainly because the horns are less spacey than on "El Salsero".
Zooming in on the songs a few songs stand out. On both "Ritmo de Africa" and "El Salsero" Ntesa partly takes over the lead vocal in one song. One of these, "Mi Historia", some of you may recognise from Ntesa's concerts with the 1990s version of Les Maquisards (of which I may be tempted to post some tracks later). On the other songs Ntesa's contribution is more modest.
In "Dame Un Papel" Missamou calls out to Wuta Mayi (T.P. O.K. Jazz, Quatre Etoiles, etcetera). I suspect he is the second backing vocalist (but only on "El Salsero").
Remarkable too is Missamou's relatively good command of the spanish language (compared to - for example - Laba Sosseh). He has, I am told, travelled to Cuba, and even has performed for Cuban audiences.
Jose Missamou has also made some more typically Congolese records, but I must admit I have never (consciously) heard any of these. May someone is willing to share these with us?
Tchi Tchi - Eddy-Son TC 393