Ricardo Lemvo

Tata Masamba

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The Cuban-African pop music connection has been going strong almost since the first invasion of 78 rpm phonograph records into Africa. Lately, various Zairean musicians have delved back into the Cuban roots of soukous (formerly known in Africa as rumba) with brilliant results. But none have gone the route as seamlessly as transplanted Zairean vocalist Richard Lemvo, who assembles a killer salsa band in Los Angeles. In the manner of legendary Cuban bandleader Beny More, Lemvo does the mambo, cha-cha-cha, and rumba proud (More's "Yiri Yiri Bon" closes this disc). Even better, he hits hard at soukous with such stellar Zairean guests as vocalists Sam Mangwana and Nyboma, superstar guitarist Syran M'Benza, and other luminaries. But it's the songs that carry the weight on a great disc that stops just short of a knockout punch, mainly due to uninspired horn charts.

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