Angolan 45s and more

Tag: Merengue

Angola Instrumentals (a roundup)


Tino diá Kimuezo feat. Conjunto Merengue “Tino Mugu ió Dimba Diobe” (Merengue, 1975)

By popular demand, here’s another Tino diá Kimuezo track. I understood- from a couple of comments and emails- that most listeners had never heard of him. Also, that the “Soul of Angola” compilation was becoming increasingly harder to find – not to mention that this very track is spelled differently there, as “Tino mungo yo dimba diobe“. Finally, that some of you found his mainly acoustic arrangements both refreshing and surprising. So, here you go. [Details as per my previous post].

[This post is dedicated to Global Groove]

Tino diá Kimuezo feat. Conjunto Merengue “N’ga Naminina” (Merengue, 1974)

Still active, the 72-year old Tino diá Kimuezo (born Faustino Manuel) is a veteran of the Angola music scene. Although he is mostly remembered for his love songs, he was actually targeted and eventually arrested by the Portuguese political police due to his patriotic leanings. One of the founders of Angolanos do Ritmo – in 1956, still a teenager – Tino was also associated with Bessangana, Turma Nguba and Sobongos, and was part of the carnival scene. In the mid-60s he was one of the many singers cast in the kutonocas (the Sunday afternoon live music festivals).

“N’ga Naminina” was a huge hit in the early 70s, here recorded with Carlos Vieira Dias’ Conjunto Merengue. A year later, in 1975, the Merengue label would also release “Tino Mugu Io Dimba Diobe/Kibela Kiami” (ref# MPA-4024), a single with a couple of tracks you can find on the “Soul of Angola” compilation. In 1975, Kimuezo – no relation with Elias diá Kimuezo – became one of the singers of the popular Kissanguela band – associated with the JMPLA, the youth organization of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola party.

Orquestra A Voz d’África “Não ao Tribalismo” (Merengue, 1977)

A low ref#, MPA-4002 to be precise, leads people to believe that this was one of Merengue’s first singles, presumably released in 1974-75. But you only have to listen to what the band is singing about to realize it just couldn’t be. The a-side is a dedication to a FAPLA (the People’s Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola) leader – José Mendes de Carvalho, known as Hoji Ya Henda – dead in combat against the Portuguese army, so no way the Portuguese censors would allow that one to pass. And the b-side, “Não ao Tribalismo”, is all about praising other commanding officers (Valódia, Gika, etc) and, of course, president Agostinho Neto, while criticizing tribalism, capitalism, imperialism, federalism, etc, and calling for unity. One of its ironies: it is sung in Portuguese – not only as means of entitlement but also as a way to exhort national identity.

Fans of classic Congolese music of the 60s and 70s will indubitably recognize where A Voz d’África and its leader, Othis Mbembay, were coming from. Like many of the Cabinda bands (Super Coba, Cabinda Ritmo, Bela Negra, etc) and singers (Matadidi Mário, Pépé Pepito, Nonó Manuela, etc), they were actually Angolan expats, refugees and immigrants in DR Congo. Mbembay was also a member of the famous Inter-Palanca band, led by Matadidi and also including Diana Simão Nsimba (a former member of Sam Mangwana’s Festival des Maquisards and Tabu Ley’s African Fiesta National). Mbembay and Simão would also form Os Malucos and Olímpia in the mid-seventies. So this is part of a very interesting narrative: the way in which the Congolese sound influenced Angola’s post-independence music. There’s a compilation here, for sure.

Short-lived, like many bands in the day, A Voz d’África included a typical Congolese line-up: a lead singer and three backing vocalists harmonizing (Diwidi-Andre, Adolfo-Bunga, ‘Drolly’ Pedro and Domingos Bento), bass (Theodór), percussion (Paulo ‘Prince’ and Manuelito Boal) and dueling guitars (Nsukami N’Dombasi on rhythm and Mbembay soloing).

Listen up!

[This post is dedicated to the Likembe blog]

Note: I took these band credits from another A Voz d’África single, “Kumba” (MPA-4053), but the sleeve was so worn that I’m not really sure of the spelling; and there’s always the possibility of line-up changes.

Note II: Angola’s music scene was packed with talent. Merengue hardly repeated artists and in 4 years released tracks by Teta Lando, Super Coba, Os Astros, Conjunto Merengue, Lewis, Bela Negra, Tino Diá Kimuezo, Ngoma Jazz, João Anesse, Avôzinho, Jucas, Jorge Manuel, Os Anjos, Nelas, Rui Morais, Carlos Lamartine, Prado Paim, Mário Matadidi, Luis Visconde, João Pequeno, Cardoso Soares, Paulo Jorge, Buarque, Pedro Romeu, Jucas, Nito Nunes, Maró Riba, Marques Nascimento, Joy Artur, Jacinto Lima, Juju Tony, Jaburu, Minguito, Filipito, Tito, José Agostinho, Paulo Neto, Nonó Manuela, Quim Manuel, Pépé Pepito, Carlos Burity, Maiuka and Tico Costa.

Conjunto Os Anjos “Angola Rumo ao Progresso” (Merengue, 1977)

Here’s a wonderful post-independence track by Os Anjos, “Angola Rumo ao Progresso” (Angola on the course to progress). It was issued by Merengue in 1977, with ref# MPA-4019, months before the release of another great single: “Choro da Revolução/Avante Juventude” (ref# MPA-4034). The latter is actually the opening track on Analog Africa‘s upcoming “Angola Soundtrack 2” compilation which I, of course, urge you to buy. So, for now, no more on Os Anjos! This post is dedicated to Samy Ben Redjeb.

Juju Tony ‘Isua Ioso’ (Merengue, 1975)

Here’s a wonderful semba by Juju Tony celebrating Angola’s independence. “Those who come to harm us can stay on their lands. Nobody has the right to oppress us on our own land. Go, go back from whence you came”, says, in Portuguese, on the back cover. A not so subtle reminder that the Portuguese administration of the territory had come to an end.

It was issued by CDA’s Merengue imprint with ref# MPA-4048, in late 1975, and featured the label’s house band conducted by Carlitos Vieira Dias (son of Ngola Ritmos’s Liceu Vieira Dias and formerly with Negoleiros do Ritmo and Africa Show). As by previous posts (look it up), Conjunto Merengue had by then enlisted 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) and Zeca Tirilene.

I believe Paulo Flores covered this song in 2001.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to obtain any biographical information on Juju Tony. If you have any information please feel free to use the commentary box.

Se possui informações biográficas sobre Juju Tony por favor comente!

Conjunto Merengue ‘Rufo da Liberdade’ (CDA/Merengue, 1975)

I hope you don’t mind coming back to Conjunto Merengue (in what is actually a three-peat, as the band was also featured in Avôzinho’s post), but I couldn’t think of a better way to welcome 2013 than with one of the all-time tightest Angolan ensembles celebrating Angola’s independence with “Rufo da Liberdade” (a lovely, smooth and joyous instrumental which can be roughly translated as “Freedom’s Drum Roll”). What an appropriate treat for the New Year!

As you know, sitting in with dozens of singers as the house band for CDA’s Merengue label, Conjunto Merengue was indeed a staple of Angolan modern popular music and, led by Carlos Vieira Dias, never faltered on its purpose to excel. In 1975 alone the group was heard on such landmark albums as David Zé’s “Mutudi ua Ufolo”, Teta Lando’s “Independência” and Carlos Lamartine’s “Angola Ano I”.

“Rufo da Liberdade” (issued by Merengue with ref# MPA-4033-CD, with ‘Nica’ as a b-side) displays a tremendous line-up: Carlitos arranging and on bass guitar, Zeca Tirilene on rhythm guitar, Gregório Mulato on the bongo drum, Joãozinho Morgado on tumba, Vate Costa on dikanza (bigger than the Brazilian reco-reco or the Latin-American güiro but with similar effects), Nando on trumpet (channeling his inner Mangione) and, last but not least, Zé Keno on solo guitar.

Zé Keno is the author of both of this single’s tracks and had a significant impact on the band since leaving Os Jovens do Prenda. Born circa 1950 on the Malange province, Keno was of the most distinct guitar players on a scene saturated with talented up and coming musicians. His phrasing is masterful, with hints of jazzy inflections and those wonderful motivic improvisations probably heard on Dr. Nico’s African Fiesta records but also learned first-hand from the Gingas’ Duia, one of Angola’s greatest soloists.

Living on the Prenda neighborhood since moving to Luanda, Keno absorbed the richness of the local music clubs and witnessed the maturation of new urban styles. He tried his luck under the José Pequeno and Kedy monikers before joining Os Sembas in 1968. He had stints with Águias Reais and África Show, but his imprint was mostly left on Os Jovens do Prenda, alongside Gama, Didi, Augusto, Chico Montenegro, Kangongo and singer Tony do Fumo. Owner of a unique tuning system (self-taught), Keno created unexpected chord changes and dabbled with a pretty impressive harmonic concept. He joined the Merengues in 1973 and has become, since then, a living legend, to this day performing as a special guest on some of Jovens do Prenda’s shows.

[This post is dedicated to Muzikifan’s Alastair Johnston, telling it like it is on his invaluable site since 2004, author of the authoritative “A Discography of Docteur Nico” and, truly, keeping a valuable resource online for our reading and listening pleasure]