February 19, 2011


It was Ntesa Dalienst who made us aware of the fact that Franco was playing in the opening track of this classic album by the Tout Puissant O.K. Jazz. Until then we had assumed that he was not involved; an assumption that seemed to be confirmed by the absence of a composition by the Grand Maître himself. Contributing to this assumption was the growing awareness that many of the guitar bits which are generally labelled as "Franco's guitar" are in fact Thierry Mantuika playing like Franco.

In fact, Franco is playing right from the start, and brilliantly too.
In the first song his guitar is on the right, and in the three other songs it is on the left. I have to add that he does not play until after 2'46 in "Nda-Ya".

Many critics consider this lp, which was released in 1984, to be one of the best of the T.P. O.K. Jazz. And I think there are many reasons to support this. For one, the top three vocal heavy-weights of the 1980s O.K. Jazz are present in all the songs: Josky Kiambukuta, Ntesa Dalienst and Madilu System. Secondly, there is no weaker song in this album. And there is certainly variety in the styles of the four songs.

The opening track is a composition by Josky. The title "K.S.K." is an abbreviation of ""Kasongo Sefou Kitima", which is the name of a person. As Josky explained in 1991*, he composed the song during a visit to Kenya in 1983. In that year, after playing in Brussels in May (see my earlier post), the orchestra went to the US for a short visit. On their return to Brussels they were invited to perform in Kenya. They spent one month in Nairobi before returning to Belgium, where the album "A L'Ancienne Belgique" (referring to a concert-hall in Brussels) was recorded at the Studio Madeleine.
Unlike the majority of Josky's compositions "K.S.K." is not a song about love. It is - as he put it - a song about life: you work well, you're a nice person, you help people, you help your friends, but still there are people who are against you.

"Nda-Ya", composed by bass player Mpudi Decca, is also a name, but of a woman. As Ntesa explained, the song is about a man who is in love with a woman, but his mother has told that he should marry Nda-Ya. When the marriage with Nda-Ya does not work out the man blames his mother.
The lyrics are in Decca's dialect of Kikongo, Kitandu, - which is remarkable as Ntesa was born in a family speaking another Kikongo dialect, called Kisingombe.

The B-side opens with what is perhaps Madilu's most famous composition with the O.K. Jazz, "Pesa Position Na Yo" (which is - I am afraid - not saying much, as he composed only two songs with the orchestra...). Madilu performed this song at nearly all the concerts in the following years, but usually with other singers backing him. In this video from 1986, for example, by Kiesse Diambu, Aimé Kiwakana and a very young Malage de Lugendo. Personally I prefer this original version, with the solid backing by Josky and Ntesa, and the understated and subtle guitar playing of Franco.

Fittingly, in the last track, "Mukungu" composed by lead guitarist Gerry Dialungana, none of the three singers has a lead role (although in the O.K. Jazz terms Ntesa - as the one with the highest voice - sings the first vocal). Instead the instrumentalists dominate this song. And, of course, this means that Franco is allowed to 'do his thing'. He does so brilliantly, gradually pulling out all the stops after about 7 minutes, with some inimitable shuffles.
In case you are still wondering which guitar is Franco's: he is on the left (I recommend using headphones).

Edipop POP 031 or (MF) here

Because the lp is still in mint condition I am adding a version in the FLAC format. This is only available for a limited period, until March 4.
Edipop POP 031 (flac)
There will be more FLAC files in the future, but always for a limited period (too much server space...)

*You can hear Josky's comments in Aboubacar Siddikh's posting on YouTube of this album.


jan duinkerken said...

Thank you. Glad you are back!!!

bolingo69 said...

I was just thinking the same! Was almost getting nervous something happened! Great post, great music! Very nice to see you back agin Stephan and hope all is fine!!!

Greetings from

joji said...

Thank you very much. Too glad you are back...

Pure music, pure sound. A thing of beauty is ... for ever. (Downloaded the flac!)

Shukrani za dhati tu.

Kostas from Greece said...

Very glad you are back!!!
Many,many thanks!!!

Kostas from Greece said...

Too glad you are back...
Thank you very much!!!

Anonymous said...

Finally finished the interlude, welcome!

Anonymous said...

Infinite gratitude for the FLAC and very glad to see you are back!

joji said...

After listening a couple of times ...

Superior quality. The quality Franco really deserves.

Flac is not only lossless but also free and open (source).


internetbob said...

Glad you'll back. Great this FLAC edition THX

jan duinkerken said...

Thank you for the FLAC!

Timothy said...

I've got the FLAC version of "Pesa Position" playing in the background. It sounds a tad slower than tracks I've listened to in the past but maybe I've been off it for a while. Thanks for posting.

dmatlb said...

I've owned this record for many years, and completely agree that it is one of the best TPOK Jazz records, if not THE best.

Unknown said...

Thanks for this fabulous album Stefan. Words fail me to adequately capture my love for this posting. Thanks for the additional info as well, always gives an entirely different perspective for some of us non Lingala/Kikongo speakers.


Rhythm Connection said...

Thank you, thank you, for this wonderful recording and especially for giving the grand master the lossless treatment he deserves.

Anonymous said...

Back with a bang Stefan. Franco & in mint condition to.

Thank you


Anonymous said...

I am so happy to hear this in FLAC.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for sharing this classic TPOK album lossless!
It is very much appreciated!

Don Julian