Congolese Rumba. Even the name is enticing and exotic. The genre is a synergistic hybrid of African and Cuban music. It’s a delightful energetic dance music that would make you forget that Congo is one of the richest and most troubled countries on the planet.
During what I would call the Golden Age of African music in LA, during the period from about 1985 – 1991, many great African bands toured the U.S., from rumba and soukous bands like Zaiko Langa Langa, the Soukous Stars, to Nigerian juju from I.K.Dairo, Ebeneezer Obey, and of course King Sunny Ade, who first brought juju to our shores. There was also Alpha Blondy, the reggae star from the Ivory Coast, and Barrister, a guy with a voice so big he had to get out of the way when he opened his mouth. He towered over the 20+ hand drummers he brought with him. He was even awarded an honorary doctorate from LA City College. A UCLA Doctoral student is writing her Ph.D thesis on this golden age.
Congolese rumba doesn’t come out here very often anymore. But tonight, Samba Mapangala will be performing at the Skirball Cultural Center. It is music of pure joy. I have the honor of introducing the band. Maybe see you there. Free, at 8 p.m. 8 p.m. Try to get there early. Here is a great video of the group.
p.s. The concert was stellar. Congolese rumba is an elixir of joy. The three dancers made it even better. Three members of the band were part of the great Tabu Ley Rochereau’s group. The drummer held it all on the road perfectly. The sax player was from the band the Occidental Brothers. I couldn’t stop dancing, and neither could everybody else, ages 2-80. It was collective bliss. Thank you Skirball Cultural Center for this exceptional night of great African music!!!