Along with fellow guitarists Rochereau and Dechaud, Dr. Nico came up in the '50s with Grand Kalle's seminal African Jazz outfit. Like his contemporary, Grand Kalle laid the foundation for modern Congolese/Zairean pop with a slew of Cuban-influenced soukous sides, which have thankfully been reissued by the French label Sonodisc. After his apprenticeship with Kalle, Dr. Nico formed his own band, Orchestra African Fiesta. This amazing collection brings together 16 of the group's sides from 1967-1969 and features Nico's supple guitar work alongside some equally impressive solos by Dechaud. Less beholden to the rhumba beat than Kalle was, Nico forges a hypnotic blend of soukous rhythms and floating guitar lines (he also adds a substantial dose of Hawaiian slide guitar here, too). And nicely complementing the rich store of instrumental treats, Dr. Nico and his bandmates deliver some of the most dulcet harmonies to be heard from the world music catalog. This is the sound of Afro-pop in its first flush of maturity.
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