Syran Mbenza routinely dazzles on rhythm and lead guitars, and the variety of voices...
Jon Lusk 2003-10-09
Having delivered two solid albums of retro-styled acoustic Congolese rumba mostly using their own material this Paris based five-piece had to find somewhere new to go.
As the title, fusing "Kinshasa" with "Havana" suggests, they've turned to Cuba for inspiration, exploring that country's intimate historical/musical connections with their own by focusing on songs written or recorded by just one great Cuban artist: Guillermo Portabales. But instead of using the original Spanish lyrics, they've added their own in Lingala, and for the first time roped in a considerable number of collaborators.
These include Cameroonian sax maestro Manu Dibango, chanteuse Mbilia Bel and TPOK Jazz veteran Madilu "System" Bialu, plus a whole string section in places. Syran Mbenza routinely dazzles on rhythm and lead guitars, and the variety of voices effectively maintains interest, aided by crisp arrangements. A worthy addition to their canon.