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Congo Jazz -Blue Flamingo -1950s Congolese Rumba

February 19, 2012

The CD “Congo Jazz”  consists of three different parts centered around American hot jazz, Congolese rumba, and gospel. The title is rather misleading, as if the whole collection of music on this CD contains Congolese jazz but this style is only one part of this compilation. The release comes with an extensive booklet describing the music but without a track-list of the artists and titles. This is a major flaw as it is frustrating to listen to music without the possibility of checking the artist or title. A true collector would definitely have added this information. It took me quite some deep diggin’ to find the track-list of the featured mix and I want to add it to this post.

Anyway, I can recommend this CD, it is  an excellent compilation despite the missing track-list. The 78 shellac discs have been mastered and mixed together in sets. The atmosphere and the build-up  is addictive, the chosen music reflects good taste and style. Certainly a valuable addition to a collection of rare African -and early Afro-American- music.

Ziya Ertekin alias Blue Flamingo -Photo: Jan van der Ven

Ziya Ertekin alias Blue Flamingo, born out of Dutch and Turkish parents,  is responsible for this remarkable compilation of rare and sometimes one-off discs. As a collector he hunts for the forgotten sounds and styles from all over the world. He is also a musician and DJ who plays 78 rpm shellac discs at parties and events.

The compilation presents 3 mixes ‘Jungle Crawl’ (1920’s-1930’s Hot Jazz Jungle Exotica), ‘Congo Jazz’ (1950’s Congolese Rumba), ‘That Old Time Religion’ (1930’s-1950’s Jubilee, Gospel & Hard Gospel). The ‘Congo Jazz’ mix is composed from original 78-rpm shellac discs from the former Belgian Congo, where, under the influence of the Cuban son and rumba, one of Africa’s first modern popular music arose.

CONGO JAZZ (1950s Congolese Rumba)

8. Intro: CONGO DANCES ARE VERY GAY AFFAIRS
9. LA FIESTA CUBANA – Tino Baroza
10. BOLINGO E GAGNE – Orchestre African Jazz
11. BANA T’ATOMIC JAZZ – Kaba Joseph & le Groupe Rythmique Ngoma
12. CANTA DEL NEGRO – Tchade. Mariola & Oliveira
13. ELIE VIOLETTE – Orchestre African Jazz
14. EL RICO CUBAN MAMBO – Orchestre Rock a Mambo

Blue Flamingo – Congo Jazz EXCEL96202

The Congolese developed a wholly unique style of guitar playing that showed great similarities to the way people played the native thumb piano. Dazzling single-note solos were melodiously plucked up and down the thumb piano. This style was perfected when the Belgian guitarist Bill Alexandre, who had performed in Europe with musicians like Django Reinhardt, tried his luck in Leopoldville, and briefly introduced the electric guitar to the region. Congolese music has produced many guitar virtuosos, including Papa Noel, Franco Luambo, Tino Baroza and the man referred to by his admirers as ‘le dieu de la guitare’; Nicolas Kasanda Wa Mikalay, better known as Docteur Nico. On the Congo Jazz -mix, a still very young Nico can be admired on the tracks ‘Boligo e Gagne‘, ‘El Rico Cuban Mambo’ and ‘Elie Violette‘.

Docteur Nico

“The foundation for modern Congolese music was laid in the 1930s, when the first 78 r.p.m. records, containing music from Latin America, reached the capitals of both Congos. These records were hugely popular with the young urban population, who were completely captivated by this music. Records had reached Central Africa before, but nowhere, not even in early jazz, was their ancestors’ legacy as clearly present as it was in the rhythms of Central and South America. It felt as if a part of Africa was returning home again. It was a homecoming that rooted deeply and fused rapidly with other Congolese traditions into something entirely authentic” 

Ngoma remains the most important Congolese record label, as well as one of the most important labels in all of Africa. It was started by two Greek brothers, Nico and Alexandros Jéronimidis, around 1948. Not only did they record well over a thousand discs, the first to capture all manner of Congolese musical styles (the rumba, cha-cha, and solo acoustic guitar picking of course), but they encouraged experimentation by their musicians. Ngoma records were pressed in France and distributed primarily in Central Africa – Congo and Cameroon especially – and as such are, well, impossible to find. Not only that, but all the Ngoma masters were long ago lost in a warehouse fire. As if that wasn’t enough, the company then donated all of its file copies to the Congolese government, only to have those destroyed during political strife.

Georges Edouard and Manuel D’Oliveira, released sometime in the late 40s-early 50s.

Edouard & Oliveira – Ngai Abuyi

source excavatedshellac

excerpts and pics from the original liner notes  of Blue Flamingo – Congo Jazz EXCEL96202

see also Origins of Guitar Music
Southern Congo and Northern Zambia, 1950-’58, recordings by Hugh Tracey

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