April 20, 2014

Dots on the i's

This short post is really about just one song. And about a survivor.

For as far as I am aware he is one of the few survivors from the brilliant orchestra which rocketed Congolese music to an altitude where it subsequently influenced the whole of a continent. I was reminded of this the other day when I saw him on a photo (on the right - and Edo is the second from the right) uploaded by Dizzy Mandjeku. Born on October 27, 1933, Edo Nganga has left enough traces in the musical history of the two Congos to warrant a prominent place in the hall of fame of African music. Contrary to some reports, he was not present at the founding of the O.K. Jazz. But he did arrive only a few months later, when Rossignol (Philippe Landot) and others left for the new Esengo label.

Edo has contributed many memorable compositions to the 'grand oeuvre' of the O.K. Jazz (and I am tempted to post a selection of these). But he is perhaps best known for his songs based on traditionals. I am referring to tracks like "Semba Mbwa Semba Dibou", "Tsia Koi Bon Tchele"(both on African 360.156*), "Ba O.K. Batele Wo" (Sonodisc CD 36553) and "Bazonzele Mama Ana" (Sonodisc CD 36555). I am still not quite sure on which tradition these are based. I have been told that Edo was inspired by the folklore of the Kongo people, but that seems to refer to many rather distinct traditions.

I am assuming there must be more songs by Edo Nganga with the O.K. Jazz which have only been released on a 45 r.p.m. record (i.e. never been reissued).
And one of these is the gem on side B of this EP: "Veronica". A beautiful bolero, offering Franco the opportunity to do what he does best: decorate and dress a song. He is at it right from the start, putting the dots on the i's, the cream on the cake, the frills on the wedding dress... The effect is accentuated even more because of the rather 'normal' (well at least compared to the Vicky's and the Kwamy's of those days) vocal of Edo Nganga. What never ceases to amaze me is the timing with which Franco adds his decorations. Take the dramatic 'interlude' starting at 1'04 and ending 20 seconds later: just perfect!

As the two other songs on this EP: the second song on the B-side, "Ba O.K. Batele Wo", is probably from the same recordings session, while the song on the A-side, Franco's "Timothée Abangi Makambo" (which as appeared on several lp's and CD's), is from a totally different recording session.

Pathé 45 EG 958

* "Semba Mbwa Semba Dibou" was later reissued on Sonodisc CD 36521, but the brilliantly arranged "Tsia Koi Bon Tchele" has never made it to a digital release, as far as I know. Why?


jan duinkerken said...

thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. Apropos of nothing, I am still amazed no company, even an indie, has tried to catalog and release in good, clean, digitized sound, Franco's entire oeuvre. It's as worthy as Charlie Parker or Willem Mengelberg, and certainly worthier than many cheap ripoff pop bands that were PR products and now are archived perfectly, and treated as gold.

And no, I didn't mention ABBA, or Bon Jovi. I wouldn't name names.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I'm always excited to read, hear your new posts.

Anonymous said...

Thank you once again for your inspiring posts. I look forward for something you mentioned sometime ago: a comparison between Djata's songs and their "folk" predecessors. But please post as many Franco's as you wish :)
Abrazos, Fabricio

FrancoPepeKalle said...

I am so happy to see Edo alive. He was one great talent for Congolese Music during the 1950s and 1960s.

Unknown said...
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oro said...

Its so good to hear you again... it has been such long time !
I hope to hear some Beninese music again.
Best regards,

Anonymous said...

Just a drop of wrldsrv-oil, to deoxidiser the blogosphere.

I'm looking for an old bolero interlude while laughed heartily with the song.

For those who do not understand what Edo sings just before the interlude in Veronica: . . .
'Listen to me, my love, you come late, because you know I love you, and then you go early.
Why do you make me suffer? ...'

It's a feast every post on this blog, thank you!

Unknown said...

When this record was released?

Anonymous said...

Hey, do you know what the date is on this release? Can't seem to find it on discogs or anything.

WrldServ said...

@Anonymous: "Hey"??
Please try and control yourself.

There is no release date on the record, but my guess is either 1965 or 1966. As I wrote, the A-side is from a different session than the B-side.