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Retrospect
newsletters from the recent past

NEWSLETTER SUMMER 1996




Combo from the Congo

Mambo, Pachanga, Cara Cara, Merengue, Twist through the Sixties, and Rumba'round Africa [RETRO10CD] with Ry-Co Jazz, the hot little combo which spread Congo music across the world. Ry-Co Jazz became pan-African heroes during the 1960s when they introduced their vital Congo/Latin rhythms to the newly-independent countries of West Africa.

The band was founded in Congo in 1958/59 and managed by Henri Bowane, the hit parade guitarist who first brought Franco into the recording studio. Original members Freddy N'Kounkou [vocal], M'bilia Casino [congas and vocal], and Panda Gracia [double bass], were soon joined by ace guitarist Jerry Malekani who stayed with the group until they ended their epic adventure in 1972.

Formed for a tour of Central Africa, the band moved west via Cameroon and Nigeria through Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Gambia to Senegal, where they recorded the earliest tracks in this collection in 1961. From 1967, with sax master Jean-Serge Essous on board, they spent four years in the French Antilles, leaving their influence on the pioneers of 'zouk' music. The new RetroAfric release Rumba 'round Africa features 16 tracks of classic Congo hits and a cracking Rockabilly/ twist.

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Musical coups

The RetroAfric mid-price compilation African Cavalcade [RETRO11CD] provides a comprehensive taster of classic African pop including many of the pioneer artistes who broke free of national, ethnic or linguistic constraints to establish pan-African reputations. Not just for nostalgists, African Cavalcade includes some forgotten classics and a few surprises. Here can be found the roots of much contemporary action-with the emphasis on dance, romance, ambience and some of the cleanest-cut guitar picking to come out of Africa. From the undisputed King of Highlife and the Grand Master of Congo-Zairean rumba, via Central African troubadors and the first electric guitarist in East Africa, to seminal soukous and taraab tunes, African Cavalcade covers the glory days of African music-14 tracks selected from the catalogue of RetroAfric releases. Including a bonus track!

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