Banzawa was the album and single that broke it wide open for Kassav' and zouk. From the opening sound of wood on wood, magical flute, and percussive dynamo, "Banzawa" is a tour de force. It is zouk chire, hard-driving zouk versus the slower zouk love, par excellence. It was a massive hit on French Antillean radio and put zouk on the international music map in a big way. The title track alone is worth the price of admission. The album was originally entitled Jacob F. Desvarieux, but in later pressings it became known as a Kassav' album entitled Banzawa. This was the breakthrough that the group had sought since the late '70s. The studio finesse of Jacob Desvarieux finally came to fruition. Kassav' was named after the tuber that can be deadly if not prepared just right. The mix of zouk by Desvarieux is similar to the preparation of cassava root. It was mixed perfectly and poised to set dancefloors and parties, zouks in the Antilles, on fire. It is difficult to imagine the elation two small islands in the Lesser Antilles felt when their home-brewed music became known the world over. A benchmark zouk album and highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by Mark Romano