2013 Year End Reviews – Joseph Kabasele – Le Grand Kallé: His Life His Music

Joseph Kabasele – La Grand Kallé: His Life His Music

Rating – A

I’ll admit to knowing next to nothing about Congolese master, Joseph Kabasele, prior to purchasing this 2 CD set1, but I’m so happy I picked this diamond up. CD 1 is comprised of songs recorded from 1951-1962; CD 2 tracks were recorded from 1964-1970. If you are familiar with Brazilian samba, Haitian kompa, Dominican merengue, or Cuban rumba /  mambo you are familiar with Congolese music. New Orleans? Funk? Jazz? Likewise. Infectious, joyous, polyrhythmic bliss.

I’m not sure if King Léopold II of Belgium2 has a direct effect on the life of Joseph Kabasele, though it is plausible. An essay for another time perhaps, including discussion of Zaire, Mobutu, and colonialism.

From the Amazon listing:

In the turbulent and euphoric times that surrounded Congo’s independence in 1960, Kallé and his rumba band, Orchestre African Jazz (which included such luminaries as Manu Dibango, Dr. Nico and Tabu Ley Rochereau) was the most influential in Africa. Their sound has rung around the world ever since.

Le Grand Kallé is the latest in Stern’s Africa’s acclaimed series of boxed sets devoted to the greatest Congolese stars. (Previous titles include Francophonic, The Voice of Lightness and Bel Canto.) Graced by recordings that have been out of print for decades as well as Kabasele’s most famous and enduring works, this double album features a keenly researched and illustrated 104-page book that reveals the man, his music and its context as never before.

(click here to continue reading Amazon.com: Le Grand Kallé: His Life His Music (2-CD + Book): Music.)

The Guardian U.K. is where I heard of this album:

If Franco was the finest musician in the Congo, and indeed Africa, then his rival Joseph Kabasele was the most influential band leader. Known as Le Grand Kallé, he was a singer, songwriter and businessman whose band African Jazz were the best-known exponents of Congolese rumba, and included such celebrities as guitarist Dr Nico, singer Tabu Ley Rochereau and saxophonist Manu Dibango. They all feature on this 38-track set that includes intriguing sleeve notes detailing Kallé’s sometimes controversial life, friendship with Lumumba and uneasy dealings with Mobutu. It starts with a charming track from 1951, previously available only on a shellac 78, and ends with his final recordings with Dibango in 1970, including the funky Africa Boogaloo. And it of course includes Indépendance Cha Cha, the delightful soundtrack to Congo’s bloody and chaotic independence in 1960, and the glorious dance song Tika Ndeko Na Yo Te. An African classic.

(click here to continue reading Joseph Kabasele: Le Grand Kallé, His Life, His Music – review | Music | The Guardian.)

  1. with a 102 page booklet – 46 in English! []
  2. Heart of Darkness, and inspiration of Apocalypse Now []

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