Celebrating the Long-Standing Love Affair Between African and Cuban Music.
African Rumba is a journey through 40 years of Latin-influenced African dance music. In the 1930’s, a Cuban song called “El Manicero” (The Peanut Vendor) became a world-wide hit, reaching even into the heart of Africa. The ensuing popularity of Latin music and dance styles like rumba, mambo and cha cha cha, which evolved in salsa, had a powerful effect of African music through the 1970’s.
In the opening track, “Aminata,” Africa and Cuba are reunited in the collaboration of Senegalese bassist and singer Alune Wade and Cuban pianist Harold López-Nussa. Named after the legendary nightclub in Dakar, Senegal, Le Sahel next delivers tight Cuban-inspired grooves with cool, jazzy vocals on “Jammo.” We then return to Alune, but this time as a solo artist, with his slow-burning, sultry “Mame”.
The funky “Paysan” by Benin’s Michel Pinheiro’s African Salsa Orchestra reflects Pinheiro’s experience working the land, as he sings a tribute to farmers who provide our food. Next, Senegalese legend, Pape Fall with his band Pape Fall et L’African Salsa, offer “Boul Topato,” a powerful fusion of Cuban son and Senegalese mbalax. Following Fall is one of the most influential groups in the history of African popular music, L’African Fiesta, which was formed in the early 1960s by two giants of Congolese music: guitarist Nicolas Kasanda (known as Dr. Nico) and singer Tabu Ley Rochereau. Their song “Lolita” is a cool, smooth groove complete with supple guitar licks.
Fusing mainly Congolese rumba and soukouss with Cuban son and salsa, Congolese artist Ricardo Lemvo with his Makina Loca backing band, pick up the dance floor pace with “Tata Masamba.” Following is “Lonlon Vanvan” by Togolese songstress Afia Mala with Cuba’s legendary Orquesta Aragon, recorded in Havana.
Stepping back a few years, we head to what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo to hear “Micorrason” (Mi Corazon, or My Heart) recorded by the legendary group, Orchestre OK Jazz, which was founded by Congolese superstar Franco. This is one of OK Jazz’s earliest recordings, demonstrating not only the musical but also linguistic influence Cuban culture had on African musicians.
Wrapping this Afro-Cuban collection is “Sin Murri Gossi” byAngola’s Banda Maravilha. Fluttering kora can be on top of a Cuban son rhythm, creating a brilliant, multicultural fusion and a truly multicultural affair.
Whether recorded 40 years ago or in the 21st century, African Rumba, highlights the long-standing love affair between African and Cuban music.