Joseph Kabasele

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Joseph Kabasele helped to spark the rise of modern Zairean music.The founder and leader of African Jazz, a band that introduced guitarist Dr. Nico, vocalist Tabu Ley Rocherau and saxophonist Manu DiBango,…
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Joseph Kabasele helped to spark the rise of modern Zairean music.The founder and leader of African Jazz, a band that introduced guitarist Dr. Nico, vocalist Tabu Ley Rocherau and saxophonist Manu DiBango, Kabasele has been called, "Le Gran Kalle" and "the father of rumba". In an interview, shortly after Kabasele's death in 1983, influential Zairean musician Franco Luambo Makiadi said, "(Kabasele) was the founder of Zairean music and, although we were in competition, he made many things possible for me." One of the few Zairean musicians to be educated to the secondary level, Kabasele made his musical debut as a member of Georges Doula's band. Forming African Jazz in 1953, Kabasele led the band towards international recognition. In January 1960, Kabasele and African Jazz traveled to Brussels, along with Belgian Congo delegates, to perform at the historic "Round Table" conference. The most successful of Kabasele's many compositions were "Le Table Ronde," written for the conference, and "Independance Cha Cha," subsequently adapted as a celebratory anthem by African countries achieving independance. Although African Jazz reached its peak in the mid-1960s, with the departure of Dr. Nico, Rocherau and DiBango, the band continued to perform until 1970 and became the first Congolese band to record in Europe.