Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FRANCOPHONIC VOL. 1 & VOL. 2 - Franco & le TPOK Jazz

YEAR: 2008/2009

LABEL: Sterns Music

TRACK LISTING: Esengo Ya Mokili, Tika Kondima Na Zolo, Anduku Lutshuma, On Entre O.K. On Sort K.O., Tcha Tcha Tcha De Mi Amor, Mosala Ekomi Mpasi Embonga, Sansi Fingomangoma, Bato Ya Mabe Batondi Mboka, Bazonzele Mama Ana, Bolingo Ya Bougie, Ku Kisantu Kikwenda Ko, Tozonga Na Nganga Wana, Annie Ngai Nalinga, Marie Naboyi, Boma L'Heure, Nzube Oleka Te, Likambo Ya Ngana, Infidelite Mado, Azda, Mambu Ma Miondo, Minuit Eleki Lezi, Mabele, Kinsiona, Alimatou, Cherie Bondowe 2, Liberte, Lisolo Ya Adamo Na Nzambe, Nalingaka Yo Yo Te, Tokoma Ba Camarade Pamba, Bina Na Ngai Na Respect, Sandoka, Princesse Kikou, Nostalgie, Cooperation, Suite Lettre No. 1, Missile, Pesa Position Na Yo, Kimpa Kisangameni, Mario, Testament Ya Bowule, Sadou

IMPRESSIONS: In my top 10 favourite music of all-time, Franco is right there. No matter how bad a mood I am in the music of Franco will never fail to make me feel better; and practically no other music has that kind of power over me. With more than 150+ albums released over his career, Franco presents a problem of which album to choose to put up here first. Even so-called "best ofs" and collections are plentiful and hard to choose between. So I went with this fairly recent collection which is actually readily available to buy from amazon, itunes or indeed the Sterns Music website. But even this big honkin' 4 cd set has many huge favourites missing. Because Franco is in fact one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century and his relative anonimity in this country is criminal. For all the yuppies who fawned over Paul Simon's GRACELAND that might want to know whose sound he stole, that would be Franco's. The entire sound of Afro-Cuban music is derived from Franco and not the other way around. Franco is indeed the "Sorceror of the Guitar" (during his lifetime there was much speculation about deals with the devil) or, as his indispensible biography calls him the "Congo Colossus". His music is too great to go unheard. In an unprecedented move on this blog, I'm going to post two links to Sterns Music (the publishers of this collection) where you may hear excerpts from every song on this 4 cd set. The first volume can be sampled here and the second volume can be sampled here. You owe it to yourself to rush right over and listen. Then buy as much Franco as you can lay your hands on. Thankfully in recent years quite a substantial number of Franco albums have turned up on itunes so you have no excuse not to enrich your life today! Buy buy buy!!!

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: On Entre O.K. On Sort K.O., Tcha Tcha Tcha De Mi Amor, Bato Ya Mabe Batondi Mboka, Bazonzele Mama Ana, Ku Kisantu Kikwenda Ko, Boma L'Heure, Likambo Ya Ngana, Azda, Mambu Ma Miondo, Mabele, Kinsiona, Cherie Bondowe 2, Liberte, Cooperation, Missile, Pesa Position Na Yo, Kimpa Kisangameni, Mario, Sadou

GUEST ARTISTS: Sam Mangwana (vocals on "Cooperation"), Tabu Ley (vocals on "Suite Lettre No. 1"), Madilu System (vocals on "Sadou")

FACT SHEET: FRANCOPHONIC is a 2 volume 4 cd set of the music of Franco & le TPOK Jazz from "le Grand Maitre's" earliest sides beginning in 1953 to his death in 1989. Franco began appearing on records when he was 15 and would craft his own big band called OK Jazz to become the biggest, most respected and most influential musicians in Africa. He would add the "TP" letters to the name which stands for "Tout Puissant" making the name "The Almighty OK Jazz". There is no way to overstate Franco's importance to 20th century music. FRANCOPHONIC does a good job sampling from the many different eras of OK Jazz's history from the early rumba recordings on 78 to the 1960's "more steadily rhythmic and ebullient Zairian sound" of the longer dance records to the later grooves which would last to epic lengths. Franco did not follow musical trends but created them seemingly effortlessly with neverending creativity and joy.

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