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Rumba Congo

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Album Review

Kekele's Rumba Congo is an album that brings together seven decorated veterans of Congolese rumba's golden age. All of these musicians have been playing since the 1960s and one, Papa Noel, has been into the Congolese scene since 1957. It is an enduring strand (Kekele is the Lingala word for a fibrous vine woven to make rope in the Congo) that harks back to the graceful elegance of the classic rumba of the Congo, whose main appeal is its sensuous charm. The Cuban influence, along with myriad other influences, has been inflected and melded into Congolese rumba. The rumba magicians have reworked rhythms and melodies via their native tongue, Lingala. This classic Congolese rumba is a welcome antidote to the surfeit of soukous stars who have succumbed to instant success by producing albums that reek of repetition, exaggeration, and uninventive guitar exercises. Here is the full glory of Congolese rumba, played with style and an elegant sensuality that is without equal in the world of African music. Why anyone would want to abandon such an appealing and diversely rich music such as this is hard to comprehend. It is a credit to these and other Congolese musicians who have kept this music alive and revived it amidst the welter of soukous clones. There is no filler here, only unguent guitar work, honey-laced vocals, piping-hot percussion, and tight fat horns. It would be difficult to top this recording for Congolese rumba album of the year or, for that matter, African album of the year. Highly recommended.

Rumba Congo, Kékélé
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