I hope you don't think I am going to go wild posting all kinds of football (soccer) related or South African music. I may be tempted to dedicate one (1) (or perhaps even two) post to football, and South African music is never off the agenda, but I'm afraid I am not going to let an over-commercialised and hyper-hyped media event dictate my blogging agenda (ahum)....
Instead I would like to dig a bit deeper into Congolese music. And in this post I would like to share three singles by Orchestre Cobantou, the orchestra founded and led by Paul Ebengo, better known as Dewayon.
You may recall that Dewayon played a crucial part at the start of Franco's career. Given this shared past, it is not surprising that when Congolese music started to be divided in two sides (or 'schools', or influences), Dewayon and his orchestra were categorised as belonging to the O.K. Jazz school. Nevertheless Dewayon has always managed to retain an authentic sound, at first - after switching from Loningisa to the new Esengo label in 1957 - with his Conga Jazz, and subsequently with Cobantou.
It is a pity that so little has been documented about the history of this orchestra, which over the years saw a great amount of very talented musicians pass through its ranks. It appears that Dewayon had some difficulty retaining these musicians, because I don't think many stayed for very long. One of these talented musicians was guitarist Raymond Brainck, who I mentioned in these earlier posts.
I am not sure when Brainck ceased to be a member. I known he was with Cobantou in the early days of the Londende label.
It is hard to say if he is playing on Londende Lo 040, the first of these three singles, mainly because it is very hard to distinguish any individual member in these two extremely unusual tracks. This may be due to the collaboration with le Groupe Monguande Folklorique, who appear to be doing their own Monguande (does this refer to the Mongo?) thing, while Cobantou are desperately trying to get their bit in....
It is clear, however, that Mobutu is the subject of both songs.
Londende Lo 040
Equally remarkable, but for very different reasons, is the second single, released as Londende Lo 043. The A-side contains a relatively normal rumba composed by Dewayon. In the song some of the members of the orchestra are named. Raymond Brainck is mentioned immediately after Dewayon (1'55 into the song), and they are followed by singer Flamy (Pierre Kiyika a.k.a. Kiyika Masamba) and Gérard (probably sax player Gérard Kongi, and probably not Gérard Madiata), Francky (the great singer Franc Lassan?? or the sax player who played with Nico?), Chécain or Lola Djangi (who switched to the O.K. Jazz in April 1967), singers Champro (often spelled as "Champrou" or even "Champroux") and Emmano Mbala, rhythm guitarist Jacky Mambau, someone called Tollo (who can he mean??), Jean-Paul (or Champro again?), Modero (more than likely sax player Mekanisi Modero, who later played in Tabu Ley's Afrisa) and André Mazi (drummer). Although this summing up of the names of band members may sound narcissistic to present-day western audiences, it was almost a necessity for a lot of African musicians, not only to receive immaterial credit from audiences in a largely oral culture, but also to avoid being excluded when it came to dividing the revenues.
The B-side of this single is again remarkable. Composed (and sung?) by singer Champro it is a french ballad, sung with a frenchness that would have made even Kabasélé jealous. It's a pity the song only lasts 2'22.....
Londende Lo 043
The third single is from a later date; it was originally released as Londende Lo 148. This suggests, by the way, that Cobantou have recorded and released quite a few singles in a short period. I deduce this from the presence of Chécain (standing fourth from the left and audible in the song on side A, and possibly on side B too). Apparently Raymond Brainck had left the orchestra, because Delafrance (before with Nico's African Fiesta) is named as the lead guitarist. I particularly like the A-side "Molangi Ya Pembe Communiqué".
African 90.404 [Londende Lo 148]
Again I invite you to correct, add, comment etcetera. I am trying to help in reconstructing some of the history of these glorious orchestras.
Edit (June 11, 2010): Here are all three singles in one file.
Ebenezer Obey-My Vision (OPS007, Obey, 1985)
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