March 22, 2012

Limelight

Please don't think that the stream has dried up. I have been very busy digitising more cassettes and records. Given the small amount of time I have this has kept me from sharing more musical wonders with you in the last fortnight.

In this post I would like to revisit the music of one of my favourite orchestras: Franco's O.K. Jazz. And in particular I would like to share more examples of the musical talent of Lola Djangi a.k.a. Chécain (see this post, and many others).

In my earlier posts I wrote about his role as a vocal "deuxième". This usually means the lower of the voices in a song. In this position out of the limelight Chécain's voice can at times - by those unfortunate beings who are less acquainted with the work of the O.K. Jazz - be mistaken for the voice of another vocalist. I can particularly understand his voice being confused with Franco's. Those who have heard his interpretation of "Mario", after Franco's death, will have to agree that - apart from the power which came from Franco's assertive personality - it was the closest anyone has come to Franco's original in sound and timbre.

But luckily Chécain has found another way to 'make his mark'. In the majority of his songs he manages to insert some kind of spoken comment. In the first of these six songs I am sharing with you in this post. "Ta Noel", he can be heard after 33 seconds, - exactly the same moment as his intervention on the B-side "Bana bakufelaka ngai tina nini?".

Both these songs, sung by Youlou Mabiala and Chécain, were composed by sax player Isaac Musekiwa, not one of the regulars when it came to contributing compositions. One would perhaps expect a good dose of sax, but in fact the horns don't show up till after 1'52 and - although present - don't outshine Franco's guitar. On the B-side we even have to wait for just more than two minutes to get any sax....

According to the label of this single on the African label, but originally released on Franco's Epanza Makita, the single was produced in 1970. Although dating in this period is a tricky business I think this must be correct, given that Chécain's "Emilie Na Gabon" and Youlou's "Likweyi" (both on Sonodisc CD 36520) were released as Epanza Makita 100 and 101. Of the singles released on the Epanza Makita label relatively many remain undigitised. And the singles of this period that háve been digitised have sometimes been sadly mistreated.

African 90.464 [Epanza Makita 114]


The second single was released on Decca's Congo sublabel. The B-side of the single is the same as the B-side of the first single. The A-side was originally released as Epanza Makita 111, with "Nabanza tele" on the flipside (according to Ewens). This song, "Nganda Benda Bika", was composed by Michel Boyibanda, who is also one of the three singers. The others are, yes you guessed right, Youlou and Chécain.

In this song Chécain is perhaps a bit harder to discover. He is certainly not responsible for the spoken incursion after 52 seconds. To be honest I don't really know who is talking there. Any ideas?

The quality - 'vinylwise' - of this single is disappointing, as is the case with most of the singles I have heard of this label. I am not sure if this is a problem of aging or one of intention on the part of Decca.
Musically this is also not one of the hottest songs in the extensive catalogue of the O.K. Jazz....

Decca Congo CD.191 [Epanza Makita 111/114]


In case you are wondering: the A-side of the next release on the Epanza Makita label, Epanza Makita 112 was "Bolingo Marie-Angele", composed by (who else?) Chécain, and digitally released on Sonodisc CD 36514. This is a track very much in the vein of "Ta Noel"/"Bana bakufelaka ngai tina nini?", - with Chécain's trademark comment at almost exactly the same point in the song.

Our friend again features in the next single, released originally as Epanza Makita 113, but here in the Decca Congo version. On both sides he is backing Michel Boyibanda, and this appears to give him almost an equal spot in the vocal balance. Particularly in these two songs the resemblance to Franco is noticeable.

Listening to the opening of "Simon Temoin Ya Libala" (I suppose this means "Simon witness at the wedding") one wonders what Chécain contribution was in this composition by drummer/conga player Jean-Félix Pouéla a.k.a. Du Pool (who I think I mentioned earlier*), as the bride appears to be his dearest Emilie ("Emilie mon amour"). The same Emilie as the one in Gabon (see above)? Chécain certainly has composed songs about his own experiences.

In both songs he is a bit late with his chat. He doesn't show up until after 0'50. I must add that someone else takes over after him (after 0'56) in "Simon Temoin Ya Libala".

I like these two songs, despite the poor record quality. Although they don't radiate brilliance on the level of Franco's Great Hits, they are good enough for a modest spot in the limelight.

Decca Congo CD.192 [Epanza Makita 113]

All three singles can also be found, bundled together, here.

* and who I as I recently noted also played on that classic Papa Noel album "Bon Samaritain", with that glorious voice of Carlyto.

12 comments:

Kisondella, A.A said...

When it comes to Franco and his TP OK Jazz, I am one of those queuing behind him in support of his legendary group.

All musicians who made Ok Jazz to me are equally on my like. When it comes Lola Checain surely It is becoming very difficult for me to recognize his voice especially when about four musician are standing before microphones; I do not know as because always he is singing at lower pitch. Sometimes it comes close to You Mabiala voice, then I found myself offline. I will follow closely to this post to recognise where Lola was hiding

jan duinkerken said...

good lecture! thanks

LolaRadio said...

Franco Oye!

Anonymous said...

Good data on Franco et le TPOK Jazz...while growing up in the 80s I remember seeing a record written Kolinga Punishment Iam not sure if this was song title or name of musician of TPOK Jazz....Could you kindly shed more light on Kolinga Punishment? Possibly post the album....I am crazy about OK Jazz music and history...

Joseph Kasonde...Kitwe Zambia

Anonymous said...

@Kisondella

For me unless its a real mega star like franco, TLR, PepeK, or a known singer with a distinct voice like papy tex, madilu, josky, carlyto, dindo, its sometimes difficult to pick up OKJazz stars like boyibanda, aime, checain etc, unless its a video and I am watching them as they sing (of course)

Kisondella, A.A said...

@ Anonymous 24 March 2012 14.48.

Surely it becomes difficult to pick up musicians who all the time are back vocals singers and rarely sing solo.

As crazy followers of TP OK Jazz, I am at least happy to get most of them in my understanding, but Lola Checain huh! I am about to give up, But I will keep up till I caught him.

I am backing up to this kind of post where by those who are infront of us they tell us at xx secs, a xx musician is singing or at xx secs xx musician is imitating.

I know it is simple to listen and go but if we have to keep legend of those who make us happy due to their music then we have to know who is who and what is he/she doing. I am complimenting worldservice and somewhere AbbubakarSadick who have been very educative when it comes to the Franco's and His TP OK Jazz

Eric Amugune said...

Please Please Please look for a song called Mayolande (or Mayolanda) and post the whole album. Am not sure whether it is TP OK Jazz that did it. While at it, there was one that went something like "Oh Kelani Kelani Kelani Mama..." somewhere around 1982. Lastly "Ami Na Kolosoy". Too many requests for one day. Will be checking the website for these tracks. My e-mail address is amugune@gmail.com

WrldServ said...

@Eric Amugune: Are you referring to this single?
Listening to the A-side ("Eugenie") it seems very unlikely that the song is by the O.K. Jazz.

And the only "Ma Yolande" I know is certainly not by the O.K. Jazz.

I'm afraid the others quotes don't ring a bell, but again do not seem to point in the direction of a song by the (T.P.) O.K. Jazz.

WrldServ said...

@Eric Amugune: "Ma Yolande" with the flipside "Eugenie" is by Orphée Jazz. See the great Bolingo site.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Sometime back I posted this request....

Good data on Franco et le TPOK Jazz...while growing up in the 80s I remember seeing a record written Kolinga Punishment Iam not sure if this was song title or name of musician of TPOK Jazz....Could you kindly shed more light on Kolinga Punishment? Possibly post the album....I am crazy about OK Jazz music and history...

Joseph Kasonde...Kitwe Zambia

WrldServ said...

@Anonymous (the first & last one): With "Kolinga Punishment" you are probably referring to the lp "Franco presents Kolinga Punishment" (released in Kenya as CHOC 002 in 1986).
"Kolinga Punishment" is a track composed by Franco which was released in 1983 as "Temps Mort" on Edipop 028, the lp which also features "Très Impoli" and "Tu Vois?" (which is perhaps better known as "Mamou").

Other tracks on the CHOC 002 lp were "Mobali Sans Passeport" (= "Laisser Passer"), "Makambo Ya Moto"(= "Chacun Pour Soi") and "Libumu Ya Accordeon" (= "Frein A Main").

Anonymous said...

Thanks World Service for your explanation on "Kolinga Punishment"

Joseph
Kitwe, Zambia