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Swinga Swinga

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Album Review

Bonga, who has one of the most beautiful voices in Africa, is heard here live at a festival in Berlin. It is a great recording and gives the listener a taste of what he can do in a live setting. His gruff, almost rasping voice is very soulful and conveys a depth of feeling rarely heard. The 11-track set is peppered with pulsating percussion that includes a huge array of instruments like congas, maracas, dikaza, tambourine, and many others. There are relentless sounds of scrapers, triangles, and drums that weave a percussive web, over which float Bonga's voice, tight saxophone solos, and fine cavaquinho (a small four-string guitar) work. "Mukanji" is an eerie, dark track that showcases the ability of the percussionists and saxophonist to stretch out. This is African music at its best. "Mariquinha," a big hit for Bonga and an Angolan favorite, is given a fine treatment in this live set. Another favorite and standout track is "Olhos Molhados," in which he reminds people that beleaguered Angolans still have tears in their eyes. Swinga Swinga might be the only live Bonga album, and it is a good one. If you have not seen him live, this album is the next best thing. Highly recommended.


Born: 1942

Genre: World

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Kuenda Bonga (born: Barcelo de Carvallo) is one of Angola's most important post-independence vocalists. A blend of Angolan, Portuguese and Brazilian influences, Bonga's music has been described as "Latin sentimentality with a touch of Gypsy and Flamenco". Originally a professional soccer player, Bonga attracted attention with his husky voice and pro-independence songs in the early '70s. Forced into exile, Bonga divided his time between Paris and Lisbon. While in Europe, he was exposed to musicians...
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Swinga Swinga, Bonga
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