Monday, 12 January 2009

O.K. Jazz/Orchestres Bantou & Cercul - Pont Sur Le Congo

OK Jazz - Si Tu Bois Beaucoup

Orchestre Cercul - Honole

Pont Sur Le Congo

256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Pathé STX 183

Found this LP in a dollar bin about a decade ago and never gave it too much thought other than playing it a few times here and there on a sunny afternoon. Once in a while I'd cart it out to a gig if I was going to be playing a set of tropical beats but other than that it's pretty much escaped the ravages of entropy compared to a lot of my vinyl. While researching the recent Lumumba post I was surprised the learn that this is actually a very highly prized album among collectors with a copy in G to VG condition fetching anywhere from $50 up. Mainly it's due to the fact it includes hits by a nascent O.K. Jazz (from before the name change to T.P.O.K.) and it features a very early piece by Franklin Boukaka who would later help further Manu Dibango's career before his own life was cut short when he was executed by the authorities in '72 for his "subversive" music.

Wordsound Warrior and Musical Martyr
Franklin Boukaka ca. 1970

There are other reasons why this is a unique record, most of them revolving around the immense political upheaval and the development of Congolese popular music in the 60s. The title refers to the unique geographical situation of the Democratic Republic of Congo capital Kinshasa and the Republic of Congo capital Brazzaville as well as the metaphorical linguistic, racial and
cultural bridge between them, the former city represented by O.K. Jazz and the latter by Orchestres Bantou and Orchestre Cercul. For an excellent accounting of this dynamic and turbulent period it's highly recommend you check out Gary Stewart's book Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos published in 2000 (you can read it at Google books here). He covers the musical scene of this time and place in considerable depth and within an historical context reaching back to colonial times.

No bridge so far

One of the keys to the popularity of O.K. Jazz was their synthesis of the Cuban rhumba with traditional Congolese rhythms and melodies which is definitely the name of the game on side one. Side two sees a bit more variety in tempo and rhythm although it's still anchored in Cuban idioms and there's a bit more action from the horn section. All in all a very enjoyable album and an important slice of African musical history.

O.K. Jazz - Tracks 1-6
Orchestre Bantou - Tracks 7,8,11,12
Orchestre Cercul - Tracks 9,10

1 Misele
2 On A Osé Le Dire
3 Polo
4 Bolingo Ya Bougie
5 Si Tu Bois Beaucoup
6 Le Temps Passé
7 Pa' Vacillar
8 Batous Pachanga
9 Mobali Ya Craneur
10 Honole
11 Endiable Merengue
12 Tout Brazza

Take it to the bridge with Soundological HERE or HERE.


ubu said...

Thanks! I'm a sucker for Congolese rhumba or Soukous!

Read some more about it here:

And search for the great "Golden Afrique" 2CD compilations put out by a label called Network (they're distributed by, for instance). Volume 2 of those is dedicated mostly to Congolese music and is stunning!

Reza said...

Thanks again cheeba , have many of the TPOK with Grand maitre Franco if desired :)

cheeba said...

@ubu, thanks for the recommendation! I have "Golden Afrique" vol 1 so will search out vol 2.

@Reza, only have a few of their more well-known songs in comps. If you have any burners to recommend, I'd be interested.

I also came across these links to Congolese rumba comps but for some reason forgot to include in the post all avail here:

VA - Rumba On The River
VA - Rumba Congolaise
VA - Congo 70 Rumba Rock

Reza said...

I posted my personal fave way back on my blog, its all killer as bacoso would say

Fine to post this comment btw , hope somebody else enjoys :)

johnv said...

This looks really tasty, thanks

cheeba said...

Reza, thanks much!

Enjoyed it, especially Namou II/Decision Echange Maloba. Much closer to what I think of when it comes to souk as it's got more of that highlife vibe. Iran Irak is good too, need to listen to it a couple more times to pick up the French is OK but not my mother tongue.


cheeba said...

@johnv, you're VERY welcome. Thanks for dropping a line!

ubu said...

cheeba, there's already Vol. 3 of "Golden Afrique" out, a compilation of music from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Sambia:

Some more info (in german):

You'll find full tracklists there, also for Volumes 1 (Guinea, Mali, Guinea-Bissao, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Chad, Senegal) and Volume 2 (all Congo)!

cheeba said...

@ubu, GREATLY appreciate the guidance! Thanks so much for pointing me in the right direction