Wendo Kolosy Marie Louise

If there's one undeniably positive effect the Buena Vista success has wrought, it's that seemingly forgotten old-timers still have much to teach us, especially where music is concerned. Wendo Kolosy is a 75-year-old resident of Kinshasa and was the leading rumba singer of his day, that is, the late '40s to mid-'50s. Cuban rumba bands toured throughout South and West Africa during the '30s, creating a lasting impression wherever they went. A good deal of African popular music today takes its cues from what might be called "Latin influence." Of course, as the notes say, what we have here is a round trip between the Congo and the Caribbean. Kolosy's pipes are in great shape! He's still a powerful singer, and he's sumptuously recorded. The music is provided by a band of young musicians, but ones who know these gently rolling rhythms as if they were collective memories. This is rumba, all right, there's no mistaking the chord structure and rhythmic flow, but the tonalities and vocal melodies are utterly African. The sound is subdued, with burnished electric guitar and spare percussion providing Kolosy lots of room to exhort at the top of his lungs. The highlight is his improvised duet with 66-year old Camerounian diva Anne-Marie Nzie, which sounds as though the whole studio wore broad smiles during the recording. (Festival)