December 31, 2012

Boy scout

This post is about an artist who has - in retrospect - been relegated to the ranks of dated 'popular music' and 'entertainment'. But Louis Vera Da Fonseca, or just Fonseca, was up there with the Big Names, in his days.

The sleeve notes on this Dutch lp are almost ecstatic: "Fonseca is the son of a Senegalese mother while his father is from Cape Verde. Hence the Portugese sounding name: Louis Vera Da Fonseca. From his early youth the theatre, ballet and - especially - music have held an irresistable attraction for Fonseca. For his friends in the boy scouts he wrote and performed little sketches and in secondary school he with exceptional energy devoted himself to a variety of artistic activities. Armed with a letter of recommendation from Radio Dakar he travelled to Paris to continue his studies. He wrote a ballet titled "Black incantation". The opening night in the Casino in Deauville was attended by a score of celebrities. His Highness the Aga Khan was thrilled by the spectacle to such a degree that he, as an encouragement, presented Fonseca with the considerable sum of 500.000 french francs. Fonseca felt the credit shouldn't go to him alone and promptly shared the gift with all his colleagues. In August 1949 Fonseca made his first records. From this moment on matters accelerated. His songs are widely successful. His records fly over the counter in both Europe and Africa. His composition "Couri Couri" is chosen as the theme of the film "Les Héros Sont Fatigués". He tours the whole of Europe with his ensemble. Eighteen months go by before he returns to his home base in Paris. As it happens, just in time to cooperate in the film "Il Est Minuit Docteur Schweitzer". More and more films and contracts follow. Fonseca opens his own Club. And he makes "Sans Chemise Et Sans Pantalon" and "O El Cha Cha", which prove bestsellers. And so we arrive to his first Long Play record: 12 exciting tracks - nine composed by himself. A total of forty-one minutes and thirty-six seconds permeated with a sparkling temperament. A excellent sample of the musical capabilities of Fonseca Et Ses Anges Noirs!"

This may all sound very boy scouty to the modern cynical blog reader. But the paradigm of the perception may shift when one considers that the artists originally scheduled to perform at the Table Ronde in Brussels (the round table conference about the independence of the Belgian Congo) were nót Joseph Kabasélé and his African Jazz, but Fonseca with his Anges Noirs! Only at the last moment the Congolese delegation insisted on a Congolese alternative.

This sheds a different light on this lp, don't you agree?

Artone BRO S-1525
or BRO S-1525


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I had found "El Monte" somewhere else and that is a great song.

ken_yatta said...

Ibrahim Kanjah Bah, who started the excellent The African Music Gallery label started his radio show, which ended in thelate 80's - early 90's (I believe) with the song "Otodi-Koplodo." Ive heard a version from Surinam also.

Thanks for the info and record, and Happy New year.

matt said...

Thanks for the upload and share. I found a copy of this earlier this year but with a current state of hiatus in my living arrangements have not had a chance to listen properly. All the best for 2013. Matt

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the share. "Babalu" and "Vidas" are WAY up there...easily Top 50, possibly Top 20, for African music.

Anonymous said...

Manu Dibango was once one of Les Anges Noirs. He was stolen from Fonseca by Kabasele in 1961

jeanluc said...

Wow - I like the first song on face B at most... very nice bolero.