New release: Franco & l’orchestre O.K. Jazz – La Rumba de mi Vida

Official release, mid-February. Open for orders on the Planet Ilunga shop page.

After the double LP ‘The Loningisa Years 1956-1961’, released in 2017, Planet Ilunga continues to explore the monumental oeuvre of Congo’s most legendary band O.K. Jazz with the new 2LP compilation ‘La Rumba de mi Vida’. It displays the full extent to which O.K. Jazz and its bandleader Franco explored Congolese rumba in the sixties and early seventies. Each of the four sides on this double LP presents a different facet of O.K. Jazz. The songs presented on this album, made in collaboration with Franco’s son Yves Luambo Emongo, justify why Franco was (and still is) regarded as the greatest portraitist of Congolese society.

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Side A presents tracks published in the early seventies on Franco’s label Editions Populaires. This was a period in which Franco took full control over the orchestra and was integrating a new sound into the band such as the return of the acoustic guitar and collaborations with artists from the first generation of Congolese rumba such as Manuel d’Oliveira and Camille Feruzi. Side B includes some of the first recordings O.K. Jazz made abroad, when the band went to Brussels in the early sixties to record for the Surboum African Jazz label. Side C features five charming covers that O.K. Jazz did, mostly of Cuban artists. Side D shows the band’s sensitivity for composing songs firmly rooted in the vast universe of Congolese folklore, and for writing lyrics in languages other than Lingala, Kinshasa’s lingua franca.

 

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Notes

* 23 tracks, see tracklist
* Gatefold sleeve with many photo’s and extensive liner notes in EN + FR
* 180 gram vinyl
* Limited and numbered release

Acknowledgements

Almost all of the 23 titles on this compilation have not been re-released previously and were restored and remastered from the original 45 rpm or 78 rpm release. This release would not have been possible without the precious help from many connaisseurs and collectors of Congolese rumba. A special mention goes to Stefan Werdekker (wrldsrv.blogspot.com), Hama-Dinga Ya Makilo and Samuel Malonga for their kind assistance during my research. Also thanks to Yves Luambo Emongo, Flemming Harrev (afrodisc.com), Julien Rocky Longomba, Christian Ongoba, David Manet, Christian Van den Broeck, Tristan Cordier, Alastair M. Johnston and Zoi Sakka for the unconditional contributions, advice and input and thus for making this release possible.

 


Text & compilation by: Bart Cattaert (Planet Ilunga)
Studio engineers: Pieter De Wagter (Equus) & Michael Kuhn (Dubplates & Mastering)
Art Directors: Pierre Huyghebaert & Sophie Boiron  (Spec uloos)

Take a look and listen here for sound samples.
For more info, please contact me through the contact form below or on the shop page.

 

 

 

 

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry with Seskain Molenga & Kalo Kawongolo – Roots From The Congo LP

°° RELEASES 27 March 2020, open for orders on the Planet Ilunga shop page. °°

Congo meets Jamaica on this exceptional reggae album from the late seventies. Licensed from BMG and made in collaboration with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Seskain Molenga, and with liner notes by David Katz.

The Belgian labels Planet Ilunga, specializing in researching, documenting and releasing Congolese music from the fifties to seventies, and Roots Vibration, devoted to reissuing classic roots singles and albums, join forces for the first time. Together making one of the most enigmatic reggae albums available again. Recorded and produced in the late seventies at Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio in Kingston, Jamaica.

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The album that the Congolese artists Seskain Molenga (African Fiesta National, Orchestre Les Bakuba, TPOK Jazz…) and Kalo Kawongolo recorded together with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is a most remarkable project to surface from the Black Ark studio. It’s also one of the most misrepresented of Perry’s productions, with myriad explanations for its existence falling far short of what actually happened.

The intention of the original band, formed in France by the producer Bernadette Duget and composed of a mixture of Congolese, Senegalese and French musicians, was to head to Jamaica to record a rock album with African undercurrents in Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio. However, in Jamaica things didn’t go according to plan and the project turned out to be a failure. The Congolese duo Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo continued working with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and this collaboration would eventually bear an unexpected reggae fruit. These recordings were originally released on LP in 1979 and re-released in 1991, yet the vinyl album remains highly sought-after.

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Now finally re-issued with extensive liner notes by the London-based journalist, author and reggae aficionado David Katz (assisted by Bart Cattaert for the interviews with Seskain Molenga). This reissue sheds more concerted light on the complex tale that lies behind the work. Most notably thanks to the emergence of new eyewitness accounts such as Seskain Molenga, Wasis Diop and Lee Perry.

The debut album by Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo remains a unique slice of musical ingenuity, an intoxicating sonic storm that resulted from their temporary presence at the magical space of the Black Ark. 

The sound recording and quality of the original album is a story on its own (you will be able to read about this in our liner notes). It was quite an odyssey to get the sound right, without losing the original energy and ambiance of the recordings. We think we made it, but we invite you to listen for yourself.

Tracklist:

1. African Roots
2. Bad Food
3. Moto Ya Motema
4. Mengieb
5. Nakoya
6. Guipimbu Gienu

Vinyl-only release
* LP comes in a gatefold album sleeve with extensive liner notes (in English)
* 180 gram vinyl
* Restored and remastered. Lacquer cut made by Michael Kuhn at Dubplates & Mastering
* Artwork by Fiona E. Oikonomidou
* Limited edition release

New release: Docteur Nico – Dieu De La Guitare

Planet Ilunga is proud to present you an anthology of Nicolas Kasanda Wa Mikalayi (Docteur Nico) on a double vinyl album. With this new compilation, made in collaboration with Ignace Mukendi (Comite de gestion des œuvres musicales de Docteur Nico) and the children of Nico, Planet Ilunga recalls the life and musical career of the legendary Congolese guitar player and band leader Docteur Nico.

All tracks are coming from mostly hard to find 78 rpm or 45 rpm records, many of them reproduced on this album for the very first time. The double album vinyl comes with extensive liner notes (in French and English).

For the research and the making of this collection of songs I could rely on the unconditional help of many connaisseurs of Congolese rumba: Alastair M. Johnston (Muzikifan), Flemming Harrev (afrodisc.com), Stefan Werdekker (worldservice.com), Christian Van Den Broeck (Belgatone), Gary Stewart (Rumba on the River). I would like to thank them here again for their generosity.

The artwork of the album is created by Pierre Huyghebaert & Sophie Boiron (Speculoos).

Take a look here for a preview video and here for sound samples.
Distribution will be handled by Rush Hour and Clear Spot.

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New release: O.K. Jazz – The Loningisa Years 1956-1961 (Planet Ilunga 03)

After some silence Planet Ilunga is happy to announce a new vinyl compilation on the early days of Congo’s most famous band, O.K. Jazz. Discover the unique and hair-taking take of Franco & co on rumba, cha-cha-cha, calypso, merengue, porro and his favourite rhythm, the bolero, in the video below and on the 32-track compilation.

2LP comes with a 40-page booklet. Early birds receive an imaginary poster of O.K. Jazz’s first concert in Léopoldville, that took place on Wednesday June 6, 1956.

Compiled with the precious help of Stefan Werdekker from the music plaform Worldservice and Flemming Harrev from afrodisc.com.

Special thanks to Julien Rocky Longomba and Yves Luambo Emongo, respectively sons of Victor Longomba (aka Vicky, tenor voice in O.K. Jazz) and François Luambo Makiadi (aka Franco, guitarist in O.K. Jazz).

Thanks to the 78 rpm collectors Christian Van den Broeck and David Manet. Thanks to Alastair Johnston from the Muzikifan website who made the poster and revised the booklet. Melesi mingi Christian Ongoba & Henriette Alipaye for the transciption of the songs in in Lingala.

 

Artwork booklet & cover album from the France-based artist Aurélia Randriamorasata. Check out her Facebook-page.

“Mawa mingi Faignond”

I would like to share ‘Elie Violette’, one of the songs in my continuously changing top three African Jazz list. This rumba lingala, composed by Roger Izeidi with him and especially Kabasele on chant and Docteur Nico on the guitar at his very best. The song has been originally released on Esengo 147 and it’s an ode to Chez Faignond, a mythical bar in Poto-Poto (Brazzaville). The bar was founded in 1948 by Emile Joachim Faignond and turned out to be a favourite nightspot among Congolese and Europese music lovers as the best bands and musicians (Jhimmy, African Jazz, Orchestre Rock-a-Mambo, O.K. Jazz, Orchestre Bantou,…) from both sides of the river performed there. Chez Faignond was even popular with Europeans from Leopoldville who crossed the river for enjoying the nightlife in Poto-Poto as social segregation was at the time maintained by law in the capital of the former Belgian Congo.

Among the attractions in Chez Faignond was La Violette, an association consisting of elegant young women showing the latest fashion in pagnes, hairstyles and make-up. These women danced in the bar to entertain the musicians and the clientele. There were lots of other women associations in both Kinshasa and Brazzaville such as La Rose, Lolita, Elégance and Diamond. Emilie Flore Faignond, daughter of the founder, kindly provided me with some pictures of La Violette and Chez Faignond that she found in the family archive. You can find two of them below and two more in the video above.

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L’Orchestre African Jazz wasn’t the only band that immortalized ‘Chez Faignond’ in their music. I heard l’Orchestre Bantou chanting Faignond in ‘Anto Na Nganda’ a rumba composed by Essous. The one I would like to share with you in the video below is the best and also the oldest one I came across until now. Mariana was released on the 25th of January in 1952 by Tino Mab accompanied by Na Bana Loningisa, the Loningisa label’s early house band. Boléro style and very enjoyable despite being taken from a rather scratchy 78 rpm copy. A real treasure nevertheless. In the eighties, Franck Lassan made a comeback with his ‘Fariala’ album and he included a new version of Mariana. If you are aware of other songs making references to Faignond, welcome to put in the comments.

More about Chez Faignond in Cléments Ossinonde’s book ‘Chez Faignond Premier sanctuaire congolais de la rumba et des musiques du monde, au cœur de Poto-Poto – Brazzaville’ & Phyllis Martin’s ‘Leisure and Society in Colonial Brazzaville’.

Kalle chanting Satchmo: a warm breeze in a cold war

Some months ago I found the seven inch vinyl with the African Jazz song ‘Satchmo Okuka Lokolé’ in which Kalle is chanting Louis Armstrong. Aside from being a very joyous song it provides inadvertently part of the soundtrack to some somber passages in Congolese history books. On October 28th 1960 Louis Armstrong (Satchmo) and his All Stars band arrived in the newly independent Leopoldville as part of a African good-will-tour, organised by the US government. These trips with famous Afro-American performers were part of the propaganda war with Sovjet Union. Despite the turbulent political climate around the time in the Congo – war in Katanga province – the Congolese people gave ‘Satchmo’ a welcome he would never forget. From then on Satchmo was called ‘Okuka Lokolé’, as you can hear in this tribute song Joseph Kabasele composed for him. After performing in Leopoldville, Armstrong and his All Stars played several weeks later in Elisabethville (Katanga). A day-long truce was called so that both sides could attend Armstrong’s performance. Armstrong later commented that he had stopped a civil war. The US based Penny Von Eschen states in her book ‘Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War’ that “Armstrong did not know however that at the time of his visit to Léopoldville at the end of October and to Katanga in November Lumumba had been arrested and would later being held and tortured by Tshombe’s army, with American assistance”.

Lyrics

Sepela a a a, Nzambe alingi yo okoma na mboka ya baninga e e e
Ya bisu u u u na kati kati ya Afrika kombo Congo e e e
Armstrong e e e mboka mosusu babenga yo kombo Satchmo
Na Congo o o o tobakisi yo kombo Okuka Lokolé e e e

Chorus (2x)

Ho o o Armstrong Okuka, ho o o Satchmo
Oyei na mboka baninga e e e toyambi yo , toyambi yo e e e Okuka Lokolé
Ho o o Armstrong Okuka, ho o o Satchmo
Ho o o Lokolé o o o Lokolé o o o toyambi yo Okuka Lokolé
Ho o o Armstrong Okuka, ho o o Satchmo

Ho o o Armstrong Okuka, ho o o Satchmo
Ho o o Lokolé Lokolé Lokolé toyambi yo e e e
Na  Congo, Okuka Lokolé
Ho o o Armstrong Okuka, ho o o Satchmo
Ho o o Lokolé Satchmo Armstrong yamba mbote ya Congo die e e e
Ho o o Armstrong Okuka, ho o o Satchmo

“Sois-heureux Dieu t’aime tu arrives au pays des autres
notre pays au centre de l’Afrique nommé Congo
Armstrong e e e autre pays on vous appelle au nom Satchmo
Au Congo o o o nous t’ajoutons le nom Okuka Lokolé”

Many thanks to Christian Ongoba & Henriette ta Belle-Sœur for the transcription in Lingala & translation in French. Merci beaucoup Christian & Henriette!

Dj sets @Release Party Planet Ilunga

Christian 78 rpm set @Release Party Planet Ilunga

As promised, hereby a podcast of Christian’s 78 rpm set at Planet Ilunga’s release party two weeks ago in Brussels. He played a 4 hour set, but I forgot to push the record button from the beginning. So the first hour of Congolese 78 rpm records was only for those who were there. In the mix:  fifties Congolese music, calypso, biguine, pre war jazz, tango, etc.  The 3 first records are from the Congolese 78 rpm label Esengo, next ones I will let you find out…

SebCat vinyl set @Release Party Planet Ilunga

Part of SebCat’s vinyl set at the Planet Ilunga release party in the podcast above. SebCat (Rebel Up! Soundclash) mainly played cumbia and chicha records from Peru. Great stuff too of this versatile dj.

http://www.rebelup.org/
https://www.facebook.com/RebelUpSoundclash?fref=ts

Planet Ilunga’s ‘Souvenirs from Esengo’ release party

We are organising a little release party on Friday August 29 in the Pianofabriek in Brussels (Saint-Gilles) to celebrate the second vinyl release on Planet Ilunga. One of the guests will play a 78 rpm set, with some of the best African shellac from his mouthwatering collection. Expect rare and rocking sounds from labels such as Opika, Gallotone, Elengi, Ngoma, Cefa and so on. The stuff that dreams are made of!

Free in of course, more details on the Facebook-event

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[FR] Vous êtes invités à l’occasion de deuxième sortie vinyle du label musique Planet Ilunga au Pianofabriek à Bruxelles (Saint-Gilles). On vous présentera ‘Souvenirs from Esengo 1957-1961’. Découvrez la magnifique sonorité des 78 tours d’Afrique et d’ailleurs. Plus de détails sur Facebook.

The new Planet Ilunga is out! Gatefold 2LP edition on 180 gram vinyl with 28-page booklet. Please message me if you want a copy, there are only 500 made.

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First review + launch youtube channel

While the pressing plant keeps delaying the vinyl release of the Esengo-compilation because of “an increasing demand in vinyl orders” (will be out in 3 weeks now), Alastair Johnston’s eminent muzikifan website, already published a well-written review on the Rock-a-Mambo/l’African Jazz Esengo double vinyl compilaton:

The formation of Rock-a-Mambo seems to have been for fun and to indulge a shared passion for Latin music. They wrote Spanish lyrics without much effort (“Yo me muero, ay, yo te quiero” — yes, really), but every groove exudes joie-de-vivre, or esengo. (…)”

You can find the whole review here (under this month’s new releases), also check out the dedicated and interactive page on Rock-a-Mambo on the same website.

Meanwhile I launched a Planet Ilunga YouTube page. I will post now and then Congolese music from the golden age that’s not on YouTube yet. I have uploaded so far two rare tracks of Le Grand Kallé & l’African Jazz, more to follow. Enjoy!