SAM MANGWANA — Lubamba (review)

SAM MANGWANA — Lubamba album cover Album · 2016 · African Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Sam Mangwana has lived, played and sang Rumba right through the golden period of African music accompanying and packing stadiums with Franco Luambo’s TPOK Jazz throughout the seventies to the early eighties and prior with Tabu Ley Rochereau in the late sixties in his African National Fiesta with another stint to follow in the late seventies with him. Considered one of the elder statesman of African music pertaining more to the Central area with his take on Congolaise music with touches of Angolan and Zimbabwean at times thrown in from his parents birth place one could say he pretty much had done it all within this genre with the popularity to go with it. Although Sam was in Franco’s TPOK Jazz and Tabu Ley’s band Afrisa he was still doing solo material and releasing his own albums as well with his second one giving him the big hit “Maria Tebbo” in 1982 albeit his biggest one with Franco was still to come in the same year being “Cooperation” ( Odongo). Still within all these bands and solo material Sam Mangwana has been far from one dimensional with Rumba being his staple and later heading towards a not so hard Soukous Sound as well as taking on Caribbean rhythms, Acoustic albums but in his later material he has returned to his Rumba roots which is what the majority of “Lubamba” contains with a beautiful laid back palm tree sound added with a slight Caribbean influence included.

It’s the album ‘s title track “Lubamba” with the horns opening within this Rumba having Sam’s smooth vocals to follow with mentions to his native Africa throughout with a delightful guitar solo placed within the song. The following “Felicite” the tempo picks up slightly with more of that beautiful Rumba guitar taking the song to a chorus with a beautiful guitar input. “Juventude Actual” based on today’s youth and sung in Portuguese has another African statesman present being the great Cameroon saxophonist Manu Dibango included within the song’s predominant guitar Latin influence with Manu just providing sax throughout the chorus and the addition of a beautiful solo included but no vocals with just Sam doing that job within this number. The tempo and bounce picks up for “Georgeta Marcory” with that Sam swing included and the following song has an electronic keyboard opening for “Luvueso” which quickly is put to the side for more of that Rumba guitar and great African chorus. “J.B. Kavungu”, “Lokossa Yo Nzombo”, Luzingu Ke Novela Ko” are the last three of the eight songs included and all are Rumba based of course within this delightful album keeping up the Tropical theme.

He has come a long way from singing in The Salvation Army choir as a child in Kinshasa up until today and I for one was pleased to see a new release from Sam Mangwana as I have always loved his take on Congolaise music with all its swing. It has been a long break for fresh material from Sam as his last prior album was “Cantos De Esperanca” in 2003 with only reissues that have followed to the release of “Lubamba” in 2016. Still the album is good but really it is for the fans and if you are looking for Soukous you won’t find any here just the old beautiful Rumba influence but really, Sam actually does not have a lot to say that’s new.
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