What you need to know:
- Speaking to the Saturday Nation, Fan Fan said Franco’s son, Emongo, who has been mobilising former members of his father’s band for a reunion, had invited him alongside Lutumba for the get-together.
- From Kinshasa, Mose Fan Fan will come to Nairobi to finalise the production of a new album he is working on at Tabu Osusa’s Ketebul Music Records. “I will work with some Kenyan and Congolese musicians based in Nairobi,” Mosese said.
- As fans of Franco mark his 27th anniversary on October 12, only two former members of the TPOK Jazz are still based in Kinshasa — Simaro, Brazzos, Others in Brazzaville and Europe.
Veteran Congolese musician Mose Fan Fan will return to Kenya for recording and a Franco memorial show. Fan Fan, composer of the hit song Papa Lolo, returns to the country seven months after his last successful tour. The UK-based singer was last here in March for a visit dubbed the ‘Papa Lolo Tour’ before travelling to his homeland, DR Congo.
Just like in March, Fan Fan, who has been in the music world since the 1960s, will also visit Congo. He is best remembered for the song Dje Melasi, which he recorded with Franco’s TPOK Jazz.
He will travel home to DR Congo at the invitation of the family Franco for the celebrations marking the 27th anniversary of the death of the founder of the legendary TPOK Jazz. The band ruled the music scene in Congo and the rest of Africa for more than three decades since its founding in 1956.
Last June, Mose Fan Fan was in DR Congo and called on Lutumba Simaro Masiya, who was the deputy TPOK Jazz band leader under Franco for many years. He also visited his rural home for an emotional return after several decades away.
Speaking to the Saturday Nation, Fan Fan said Franco’s son, Emongo, who has been mobilising former members of his father’s band for a reunion, had invited him alongside Lutumba for the get-together.
However, the forthcoming celebrations will be affected by the deaths in the last one month of two former TPOK Jazz kingpins — Celestin Kouka and guitarist Thierry Mantuika Kobi.
Kouka, who died on August 20, was among the stars in band from the 1950s. He featured alongside Edo Nganga and Vicky Longomba.
Mantuika, who died almost two weeks later in Belgium, joined TPOK Jazz after Mose Fan Fan, who was reputed as the stand-in guitarist to Franco during live shows, left.
“After my departure from TPOK Jazz in 1973, it was only Thierry who was able to emulate Franco like I had done,” Fan Fan said.
From Kinshasa, Mose Fan Fan will come to Nairobi to finalise the production of a new album he is working on at Tabu Osusa’s Ketebul Music Records. “I will work with some Kenyan and Congolese musicians based in Nairobi,” Mosese said.
He is working on adaptations of rumba from 1960 to 1970 of the songs of TPOK Jazz and African Jazz by Franco, Vicky, Edo, Joseph Kabasele and Jean Serge Essous.
Essous was in the forefront of the Orchestra OK Jazz in 1956-57, alternating with Franco. In 1958, Essous, Nino Malapet, Rossignol and Pandy left to form Orchestra Rock -a- Mambo.
Fan Fan says his project is meant to keep Congolese rumba alive and help the new generation to look back before producing new songs. The album will be dedicated to the top rumba musicians — The Grand Kalle Joseph Kabasele, Dr Nico Kasanda, Franco, Wendo Kalosoy, Tabu Ley Rochereau and Papa Wemba.
He will also dedicate it to some of the living legends such as Simaro Lutumba, Armando Brazzos, Edo, Michel Boyibanda and Jeannot Bombenga.
As fans of Franco mark his 27th anniversary on October 12, only two former members of the TPOK Jazz are still based in Kinshasa — Simaro, Brazzos, Others in Brazzaville and Europe.
Other former members based in Congo Brazzaville are singers Edo Nganga, Michel Boyibanda and bass guitarist Celi Bitshou, who composed the famous song, Infidelite Mado.
Those living in Europe include Prince Youlou Mabiala, Dizzy Mandjeku, Michelino, Papa Noel and Wuta Mayi in Paris.
Brazzos was in African Jazz with Vicky Longomba (1959-1960) in a union that culminated in the release of Independence Cha Cha, with Joseph Kabasele, Roger Izeidi, and Dr Nico.
Brazzos was replaced by Bemi and Bolhen (Negro Succéss) before Simaro joined OK Jazz in 1961. Brazzos and Simaro were the rhythm guitarists at the time. Bolhen played sometime solo when Franco was arrested for driving without a licence and imprisoned by the colonialist police.
Vicky Longomba and Brazzos joined Joseph Kabasele in African Jazz. Franco, who was in OK jazz, re-organised the band to re-create the group with singers Mulamba, Kwamy Mussi, maracas player Simon and guitarist Tshamala Picolos. Verkys Kiamuangana came in 1963.
Mose joined TP OK Jazz in 1968 when Verkys left. Others who came at around the same time, include singers Prince Youlou Mabiala, Lola Checain and bass guitarist Celi Bitshou. This lot is credited with the creation of the rumba beat that has cemented Congo’s place in the world of music.