Congolese Rumba

This week I take you back to Congo in the 50’s …

Soukous or Congolese Rumba, was very popular all through Africa in the late 50’s early 60’s, before Afro-beat arrived, and has been the secret love of session guitarist Smokey Hormel. Generaly playing roots-rock related dates with high-class stars (Beck, Johnny Cash, Norah Jones, you name it…), he has put together a band to play this quite obscure Congolese rumba.

Capture d’écran 2015-08-17 à 12.17.18

I chose to transcribe the live version of the opening song from the album : ‘Cheri Akimi Ngai’, simply because the solo is a bit longer, and is actually a variation on the album solo. Charts available here as usual.

This is a cheerful fun dance tune, based on I V and I IV V sequence, in F major, driven by percussion and tuba (instead of bass), the clarinet and guitar play the melody harmonized in 3rd, then trade solos. Listen to that first thing in the morning, it’ll put you in a good mood for the rest of the day !

Hope you enjoy and have fun with it !

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