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.
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’.