East African Music - African Radio

Congolese Sounds from Nairobi

Samba Mapangala & Orchestre Virunga

bones.gif (16631 bytes)Vunja Mifupa
Lusam 01

Samba's latest CD is also one of his best. Five of the eight songs were recorded on the 1996 tour in New York and London. The other three were recorded in Paris back in 1989 but had never appeared on LP or CD (except for the release of the "original mix" Vunja Mifupa in the Rough Guide series). The three Parisian recordings which rely on the backing of Paris' top session musicians are the songs Vunja Mifupa, Virunga, and Marina. Although they have a slightly different feel (more synthesized sounds and different rhythms) than the other five, they fit nicely in the whole package making it an interesting and varied CD. In fact,Vunja Mifupa and Virunga will likely be the favorites on the CD. The five new songs are more in the vein of earlier Nairobi recordings: great guitars, driving rhythms, and the superb saxes of Rama Athumani and Twahir Mohamed. It's soukous but definitely the sweet East African version. My favorites on the CD are Confusion (not to be confused with Yembele, which means confusion) and Wabingwa (with its sweet little guitar riffs evolving throughout its nearly nine minutes).

volcano.gif (22424 bytes)Virunga Volcano
Earthworks STEW16CD

The perfect album. Superbly crafted songs that are as fresh and enticing today as they were back in the early eighties. Listen to a
sound sample from Virunga Volcano, a guitar solo excerpted from "Ahmed Sabit".

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(Cassette only) [UK]

One of the appealing things about Samba is that he doesn't sound just like every other Parisian soukous star. The Paris tracks are an interesting diversion down one current of the mainstream but give me the unmistakable East African sound of the four Nairobi tracks any day.

feet.gif (16240 bytes)Feet On Fire
Stern's Africa STCD1036

First-rate Samba Mapangala recorded on the 1991 UK tour.

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karibu.gif (17960 bytes)Karibu Kenya
Sun Records WM334

The most recent CD release from Samba made with some of the best session musicians on the Parisian scene. I prefer Samba's recordings with East African musicians and don't much like the synthesizers and drum machines of the Parisian sessions. Nevertheless, this is still a worthy CD that takes off quite nicely in a number of places, thank you.


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Polygram (now Tamasha) CASLP 2037

This is a Kenyan cassette recorded in the early 1980's. The material is quite good and features the late vocalist Moreno Batamba on some of the tunes.

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This group of eight Congolese musicians came together in Nairobi in early ’96 under the leadership of Didie Double-weight. Individually, they’ve played with some of Congo’s most famous musicians and groups including Sam Mangwana, Koffi Olomide, Viva la Musica, and Tanzanian based Maquis Original and Carnival Band.

Image of CD cover:  Rumba Is RumbaRumba Is Rumba
Kelele Germany

But for Swahili language lyrics in several of the songs, this is mainstream Congolese soukous all the way—and that’s not bad. The sound is reminiscent of Wenge Musica and the production at Sync Sound Studios, Nairobi, is first-rate, as usual.

Order: Rumba Is Rumba from Amazon.com


Jean Bosco Mwenda

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Mwenda wa Bayeke: African Guitar Legend
Rounder 5061

Although not a Kenyan, this Congolese guitarist was immensely popular in Kenya, spent time there circa 1959-1960, and influenced many Kenyan guitarists.

To contact Douglas Paterson, send email to DPaterson@EastAfricanMusic.com.

Last updated November 11,2002.

East African Music - African Radio

Copyright 2002 Douglas B. Paterson, All Rights Reserved.