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O.K. Jazz

21/12/2021Belgian's Planet Ilunga Dedicates A Limited 2LP Compilation To Kinshasa's Kings Of The Congolese Bolero

'Tis the season to wind down. We're about to give the keyboards a rest and enjoy some time away from the screen, but that doesn't mean we'll leave you without some quality listening recommendations. One record you'll want to get your hands on if you can is this 2020-released compilation of Congolese boleros, rumba and similar 'slow music' styles, passionately performed by the O.K. Jazz orchestra (aka the Tout Puissant Orchestre Kinois de Jazz) and now compiled by independent Belgian imprint Planet Ilunga. The vinyl label "focusses on music that is at first sight untranslatable" and "specialises in archiving, documenting and sharing the 'Rumba Lingala' sound from the fifties and sixties from both the Congos, [...] wishing to contribute to restoring the rich Congolese music archive."

"Pas Un Pas Sans... The Boleros of O.K. Jazz 1957-77" presents 24 songs, restored and remastered from the original 45 and 78 rpm releases and chronologically presented. Most of these songs had never been reissued prior to this release. Championing a musical style that originated in the late 19th century in Cuba, the illustrious Congolese O.K. Jazz band, led by the late Franco (born: Francois Luambo Makiadi) and his guitar, "released dozens of boleros [and] beautiful compositions [...] in its nearly forty years of existence," placing a heavy emphasis on "the joy and pain of love, but [also touching] on friendship, city life in Kinshasa, laments, politics and even advertising for a shoe brand," as heard on the title track to this compilation. To this day, band leader Franco is widely considered "the greatest portraitist of Congolese society."

The release comes with a 32-page booklet that is bound to give you more insight into the band, its founding members, influence and historical significance. You can place your orders on Bandcamp or directly on the label's website. To preview the full release just hit play below and let the sounds and lyrics work their magic. 

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom