Conjunto Merengue ‘5 de Julho’ (CDA, Merengue, 1977)
Conjunto Merengue, as you may well know, was the house band of CDA’s Merengue imprint. As such the very much in demand band supported and included a who’s who of Angolan talent and it’ll obviously be featured in upcoming posts. So, pardon the brevity and stay tuned.
Released in 1977, “5 de Julho”, by Zé Keno, issued with “Choro de São Vicente” as a b-side with ref# MPA-4006, is a cheery, vaguely Caribbean and carnivalesque instrumental number with hints of mazurka dedicated to Cape Verde’s independence day. As usual, even while jumbling so many genres, the band is discreet, controlled and sounds almost conservative when you consider the talent involved. But Conjunto Merengue’s greatest skill was mastering a collective sound – inventive, imaginative, with flashes of virtuosity but never concerned with showing-off.
Led by Carlitos Vieira Dias (the son of Ngola Ritmos’s legendary founder Liceu Vieira Dias and formerly with Negoleiros do Ritmo and Africa Show), the band was then composed of Zé Keno (Jovens do Prenda’s lead guitarist), Vate Costa (Kiezos’ singer), Gregório Mulato (the Águias Reais’ percussionist), João Morgado (Negoleiros do Ritmo’s drummer), Damião (also on drums), Nando (trumpet), Tony (trombone), José Joaquim Júnior (rhythm guitar) and organist Weba.