Various Artists - African Pearls: Congo: Pont Sur Le Congo 2 x CDs
"A 2CD collection of Congolese music from the '60s and '70s. In the late 1940s, the combined influences of jazz and European and Cuban music resonated on both sides of the Congo River. Brazzaville and Leopoldville, now Kinshasa, vibrated with a newfound electric modernity. In 1960, the two Congos, Belgian and French, became independent and forged a common Congolese cultural identity, which first expressed itself through music. Western productions like American rhythm'n'blues, British rock, and French pop also infiltrated the local musical customs. The natural fluidity of the Lingala language, a common Bantu language used on both banks of the Congo since the 19th century, allowed many artists to reach out to the largest possible number of people, Lingala being mainly an oral language. Kikongo, French and Spanish were also widely used in popular songs. During the 1960s, both Congos experienced outrageous economic growth, resulting in a pleasure-seeking society. The epic competition between the African Jazz Orchestra and its different off-shoots, such as Docteur Nico, Grand Kallé and Tabu Ley, but also between Franco's OK Jazz Orchestra and Verckys' productions, stimulated local creativity. Every one of these Congolese orchestras, from the popular to the most obscure, were absolute dance machines. Interactions between musicians of the big orchestras of Kinshasa and Brazzaville were constant and almost impossible to keep track of. From the beginning of the African Jazz movement at the start of the '60s, orchestras made a habit of breaking-up after their first hit or at the slightest sign that egos were getting too big. With this competitiveness also came mutual respect. Each side could count on their supporters, like a football team, and every recording or a musician's replacement was a topic of serious discussion in the local media and in daily conversations. Here is a sampling of music from the region's most influential acts during a fertile era of cross-cultural pollination. Produced by Ibrahima Sylla. Includes 20-page booklet with full-color photos and liner notes in French and English by Florent Mazzoleni."