Formed in Leopoldville, Congo in 1958 by Henri Bowane originally just for a short tour of the interior, the group featured Freddy N’Kounkou (b. 1934, Congo; vocals) and Jerry Malekani (b. 18 April 1938, Congo; guitar), Jerry Malekani (b. 18 April 1938, Congo; guitar), M’bilia Casino (vocals) and Panda Garcia (bass) augmented by a changing pool of other musicians (ranging in number from two to 15). They played a variation of Congolese guitar pop with strong Latin influences, plus whichever dance rhythm was popular at the time (calypso, highlife and even the twist). Permanently on the road throughout the 60s, they played all over West Africa, in Paris and, from 1967, the French Caribbean (where they had a profound influence on the development of the local musical culture). Following a three-month tour of Algeria, on which they were joined by Manu Dibango, Ry-co Jazz split up in 1972. Malekani moved on to become a regular member of Dibango’s band.
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