Samba Mapangala / Samba Mapangala & Orchestra Virunga

Ujumbe

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    9
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AllMusic Review by

Samba Mapangala formed the legendary Orchestra Virunga in 1981 and the volcano is still erupting every few years with exceptionally vivid music. The group takes its name from volcanoes in the Congo. The personnel configuration here has changed a little from the previous Karibu Kenya, but the musicianship is first rate. Karibu Kenya is somewhat more experimental and has a special energy that this album lacks. This is not to say that this album is inferior in any way. It has a different energy and feel than Karibu Kenya, but the tight instrumental arrangements provide ample power and drive. Mapangala's voice is better than ever. He also writes the music and lyrics to just about all the material. Ujumbe does not cave in to the ndombolo craze current at the time on African music dancefloors. It retains its own ground on African soil without becoming repetitive and stale sounding. For this reason alone, the album is worth the price. The others include honey-laced vocals, deft guitar playing that glides and turns like a graceful multi-colored bird, deceptively simple and catchy melodies, and percussion that percolates throughout. Recommended.

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