Guitarist Henri Bowane played an essential role in the development of Congolese rhumba in the 1950s. The resident bandleader and arranger at Loningisa Studios in Kinshasa (then Leopoldville), he provided Franco Luambo Makiadi with his first job as a musician. Combining a guitar style rooted in the folklore and zebola rhythms of the Mongo people and the Latin-American music he heard in the city, Bowane created a sound that blended the poly-rhythms of highlife and the melodic guitar tradition of soukous. Releasing dozens of 78s, he became one of the wealthiest performers in Central Africa. His hits included "Marie-Louise," "Netale Natal," and "Wabon Kum Blues," which he recorded with Zaiko Langa Langa. He became the first Congolese musician to perform outside his homeland when he appeared in Angola in 1955. Leaving the Congo in 1960, as founder/manager of Ry-Co Jazz, Bowane helped to introduce the rhumba to West Africa. He recorded his only full-length album, Double Take -- Tala Kaka, in Ghana in the mid-'70s.
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