Ndala Kasheba

Yellow Card

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Ndala Kasheba is an expatriate from the Congo who's been plying his trade in Tanzania for quite some time now. He brought with him a love of old-style Congolese rumba, some excellent skills on guitar (12- and six-string), and a strong vocal talent. Yellow Card, his Western debut recording, captures him with his full band, heavy on the guitars with the irresistible swing of the rumba. It kicks in fully on the second track, "Marinella," where Kasheba proves himself to be a fluent lead player, offering lovely runs while three voices (including his own) sing; all that's missing is the extra oomph of percussion over the drum kit. And that sets the tone for the disc -- the first track, "Kokolay," almost sounds like a prelude, a warm-up. "Mpaka Managa" is the best cut, where the horns riff away, the voices are in top form, a complete rhythm section is percolating, and Kasheba's lead cuts over it all. However, the entire album is a delight, bubbling over with the easy movement of the rumba -- and in many respects it's a lot more traditional than recent albums coming out of the Congo. An absolute joy.

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