Nyboma, Doublé Doublé

Nyboma, front by you.

Tenor voices in pop music are as much a part of summer as a cicada’s siren or the chimes orbiting a Good Humor ice cream truck. The fabulous ones, the guys who sing the way a kid skips rope, always transmit something of their own summer experience in their music. Weather is the embedded data in a great singer’s voice: the simmering humidity of Detroit (Smokey Robinson), fata morgana materializing in the tinder box canyons of Los Angeles (Neil Young), the torpid air of a Kingston street corner (Hugh Mundell).

I have not experienced summer in Zaire, and may not want to, but I’d like to think that Nyboma’s voice speaks well for some aspect of it. He, too, is a tenor with vim to burn, a singer who began his career in the ‘70s with Orchestre Bella Bella and Orchestra Lipua Lipua. It was as front man for Orchestre Les Kamalé that Nyboma began to make a name for himself. Today’s album, Doublé Doublé, was recorded with the latter group; its bass player, Bopol Mansiamina, features on subsequent recordings by both Nyboma and the Congolese supergroup Les Quatres Étoiles (Nyboma and Bopol representing two of the Four Stars).

Doublé Doublé plays as old school, despite a 1983 release; Nyboma and the members of Orchestre les Kamalé were still in the sway of the Cuban groups who played post-war hotel dates in the Belgian Congo, groups like Trio Matamoros and Sexteto Habañero. Nyboma's voice is framed by wonderful arrangements throughout, guitars grinding against one another, as refrains from the brass section explode and dissipate like wave upon wave of Roman candles.

This is the first of three posts concerning Nyboma. Next up, a brilliant solo lp, followed by a modern spin on soukous from his later group, Les Quatres Étoiles. Ça bouge? Oui.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post! Thanks.

3:49 AM  

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