Bakala Dia Kuba

by: Papa Wemba

The king of African fusion music, Papa Wemba, puts his magic to work on his 2001 CD release Bakala Dia Kuba. The title translates as "A Strong Man" and Wemba is indeed that, world famous for his eclectic music synthesizing the traditional Zairean music of Africa and the R&B sound of the United States. The CD features both of Wemba's orchestras: Nouvelle Ecriture and Viva la Musica/Cour des Grandes. There are also special guests, including Ray Lema on keyboards, Lokua Kanza on guitar and arrangements, Souzy Kasseya on guitar and arrangements, Alain Makaba on guitar, Caien Madoka on guitar, and Miguel Yamba on bass. Together, they put together a powerful recording full of joyous music. The rhumba and soukous of the Congo are there, and so is the steady drive of rhythm & blues. The master mixes it up, for Wemba knows his audience and they live all over the globe. Put it all together and Papa Wemba has got something to satisfy old fans and to make new ones. The opening track, "Porquoi Tu N'es Pas La," starts things off in this planetary spirit, with electrifying keyboards and acoustic guitar and Wemba's melodious voice. But even on the more traditional pieces, such as "Mawe," Wemba is always pushing the envelope, trading traditional instrumentation for horns. Wemba really gets down with the R&B inflection on "Toutou Ma Biche," while "Mere Premiere" takes a Congo standard to a new level. The CD goes out with a reprise of "Ainsi Soit-Il," leaving the listener with a pleasant memory of Papa Wemba's happy spirit. ~ Rose of Sharon Witmer

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.