December 20, 2008

Surboum (1)

I am hoping this will be an interactive post. I mean, I will tell you which tracks I am looking for and will share with you the ones I do have; and I hope you will share the missing tracks with us.

The OK Jazz only released 70 records on the Surboum label. And in this post we will be looking at the first ten of those. All those 20 tracks were composed by Franco.

To explain how the OK Jazz got to record these tracks, one has to go back to the time just before Congo's independence. Kabasele (Kallé) had been asked to perform at the Round Table (Table Ronde) conference in Brussels. But not just Kabasele: Franco too had been asked to join what was supposed to be a selection of the best Congolese music had to offer. Vicky Longomba (who after his return to Congo formed the Negro Succès) had already accepted the invitation. Franco hesitated. It was a difficult time for the OK Jazz; the orchestra hadn't recorded for several months, and spirits were low. And to top it all, key-musician Brazzos also decided he would go with Kabasele. Finally Franco, discouraged, accepted the invitation. Tickets were bought and passports arranged. But his wife, Mama Paulina, intervened. A strong woman, and a prominent member of the OK Jazz fan club, she accused Franco of betraying his style and all that the OK Jazz stood for. When Kabasele and Roger Izeidi came to make the final arrangments for the voyage, she grabbed Izeidi by the tie and told them to go away and leave her man alone; her François was not going!

Franco decided to take charge and found two replacements for Vicky: Mulamba Joseph a.k.a. Mujos and Jean 'Kwamy' Munsi. And to replace Brazzos, Bombolo Léon 'Bholen' and -later- Jean Bokelo were invited.

But a new challenge surfaced, -this time of a technical nature. The Loningisa label had problems with the new 45 rpm format. The quality of the records was unacceptably low.

At the time it was rumoured that rivalry between the OK Jazz and Kabasele's African Jazz were at the basis of Franco's refusal. But in fact Franco had the greatest respect and admiration for Kabasele, and Kabasele was a great admirer of Franco.
In Brussels Kabasele recorded some tracks which were released on a new label called "African Jazz". When he returned to Kinshasa, Franco turned to him for help. Also to show there were no hard feelings between the two men, Kabasele invited Franco to come and record in Europe, and to release his records at his label, which he had renamed to "Surboum African Jazz".

The first ten records released by the OK Jazz on the Surboum African Jazz label were all compositions by Franco.

TitleComposerCD/ lp
001La Mode Ya Pius Apiki DalapoFranco
Ngai Mwana Na WeyiFranco
002Amida Asukisi MolatoFranco
Mboka Mosika MawaFranco
003Mibali Bakomi Mpasi Na LeoFranco
Pa Roger Na DoliFranco
004Cha Cha Cha EriqueFranco
Soki Ngai Na Bandaki YoFranco
005Liwa Ya WechFranco(CD 36508/ 360.070)
Na Likuanga Na SeliFranco(CD 36508/ 360.070)
006Baiser Na LitamaFranco
Bana MpotoFranco
007Franco CantarFranco
Tika Toloba LeloFranco
008Lopango Ya Bana Na NgaiFranco
Mbanda Mwasi Alingi NgaiFranco
009Amida Muziki Ya O.K.Franco(CD 36508/ 360.070)
Motema Ya FafaFranco(CD 36508/ 360.070)
010Muana Moko MawaFranco
Ye BoFranco

The titles in green are the ones that are missing in this collection (new link January 5, 2012). I am hoping someone can provide these.... (fingers crossed)

In the next post about the OK Jazz on Surboum African Jazz I will give you more details about the line-up.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your fantastic blog - and for changing the comments section to enable 'non-bloggers' to comment. I look forward to reading and learning more - and listening to fantastic music! Chris A

Anonymous said...

Just : danke! Wish I could help.
Franco (and TP OK Jazz) is the greatest.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. I have been listening to West African music most of my life, but your Blog has deeply enriched my knowledge.

John Carlin

Anonymous said...

from every publication about Congolese music that I have read so far I got the impression that Vicky was president and member of OK Jazz until January 1960 when he joined African Jazz for the trip to Belgium. Now I read that he "left the OK Jazz in 1959 to form the Negro Succès". What is the source of this info and is there any evidence for this?
Also, what about the idea that Negro Succes was founded when some of its members were still with OK Jazz? After all, quite a few Congolese musicians played in different groups at the same time to make some extra cash. Peter.

WrldServ said...

You are right. Vicky did leave the OK Jazz in January 1960 (last composition: "OK Jazz est enchanté"...). And on his return he formed Negro Succès. I have corrected this.
And I certainly agree with the idea that musicians could be members of more than one band. This was not just the case with the Loningisa label, but (much stronger even) with the Esengo label. Musicians were employed by the record company, so they played wherever the company told them they should play.

They say it's a cold world said...

I love your sentence that includes the information that the OK Jazz "only released 70 records on the Surboum label." It hints at how prolific they and Franco were--how many artists manage to record and release 70 tracks in an entire career? Lovely blog.

Anonymous said...

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