October 07, 2008

Le guitariste hawaien

Elenga Zacharie, better known as Jhimmy, was one of the founding fathers of modern Congolese music. Coming from what is now known as the Central African Republic, he came to Leopoldville to work as a shorthand typist with the Solbena trading firm of the Benatar brothers. When the Benatar brothers started the Opika record label, Jhimmy started his career as guitariste. His stage name was taken from American country legend Jimmy Rodgers.

His first hit was a track called "Ondruwe" which co-starred his Angolan friend Mwanga Paul, who also composed the track "Henriette" on the other side of the record. When others -like Kabasele, Goby, Déchaud and Taumani- came to the Opika label and became 'stars', Jhimmy faded into the background.

Here are four tracks recorded in April 1951. The group accompanying Jhimmy was called the Cuban Jazz orchestre. The main vocalist is Mwanga Paul.
I have added two tracks from 1952, of a slightly better quality, with some lovely plucking from Jhimmy and Mwanga Paul crooning away. My favorite is "Likambo Te", which I am told translates as "there is no problem"...... Very true.

Opika 431, 432 and 458 (new link March 4, 2010)


lemmycaution said...

Well Stefan, what can I say?
I've been a fan of your impeccable taste and unique collection for about 20 years. I was taping the world service back then already (wasn't it on sunday evening, once a week?) and after i moved out of Amsterdam to Berlin, discovered it on the internet again.
I am very excited that you've opened a blog and above that, i'm glad it also gives me an opportunity to thank you for all those fantastic recordings you gave me.
Like these wonderful tracks by Hawaienne Jhimmie! I heard them also on your broadcoast and noticed that the 4 solo tracks sounded a bit slower. I might be wrong, but i am under the impression that the tracks in this post ara a tad too high-pitched, just for your notice.
Please keep it on and don't let the anonimity of the blogosphere get you down!

lemmycaution said...

with the 'solo tracks' i meant of course the tracks with cuban jazz from 1951

WrldServ said...

You may be right about the speed. I have re-digitalized these tracks recently, on different equipment. I hadn't noticed it (so far) myself. I will compare these tracks with older copies.
Apart from that, I am glad you have enjoyed the WorldService radio shows, and hope you'll enjoy the 'multi-dimensional' blog.

bamako said...

I am quite new to this blog, and I just want to thank you for your incredible work and kindness in sharing all these treasures.

Gary Stewart writes that Jihmmy was born in Brazzaville (Rumba on the river, p. 34). Is he wrong?

Scraps said...

I just want to say that I really appreciate keeping your links up. Otherwise I would never have heard most of these. Cheers.