Kekele Kinavana Review

Released 2006.  

BBC Review

Syran Mbenza routinely dazzles on rhythm and lead guitars, and the variety of voices...

Jon Lusk 2003

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.

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