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Ricardo Lemvo's mix of Cuban salsa and pan-African styles (soukous, Congo rumba) has been described by the Los Angeles Times as "seamless and infectious." Born in Congo-Kinshasa of Angolan ancestry, Lemvo formed his band, Makina Loca, in 1990. He has toured extensively in Europe, Australia and Latin America, and has performed in some of the most prestigious venues in North America: The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Lincoln Center in New York City, Stern Grove Festival in San Francisco, Montreal Jazz Festival, and Mountain Stage in West Virginia, among others. Lemvo's four CDs, Tata Masamba (MOP 1990-CD UPC:608228199027), Mambo Yo Yo, Sao Salvador and Ay Valeria! (MOP 1991-CD UPC:608228199126), have been enthusiastically acclaimed by both print and broadcast media worldwide.
Congo-born, Los Angeles-based singer-composer-bandleader Lemvo has been mixing the guitar-driven form of rumba he heard growing up in his homeland's capital city of Kinshasa, with its Cuban forebears--five-centuries-worth of Spanish melodies mixed with African rhythms--for a very long time. For his fifth album, which is named for his newborn daughter, he has wisely concluded that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." The result is a deliriously joyous batch of bold-and-brassy, accordion-laced, percussive, sinfully melodic hip-swingers sung in several languages, but not only in the expected Congolese Lingala dialect, French and Spanish. For example, "Serenata Angolana," with sultry second lead vocals by Cape Verdean star Maria De Barros, is interpreted in Portuguese as a tribute to Lemvo's Angolese grandfather. But "Elebette," while transformed into a slinky bolero, is performed in the original Turkish. If "Malambo," written by the late, great Franco Luambo, and Tino Baroza's '50s-vintage "Lollobigida" constitute a return to the old nabe, "Mentirosa," with its gently propulsive charanga violins and flute, is more redolent of Havana by moonlight. Among the talent on hand, stand-outs include legends like guitarists Papa Noel, Bopol and Huit Kilos, singers Nyboma and Wuta Mayi, and bassist Miguel Yamba, but this is to name only a few. Fans of Africando and Kékélé should definitely snap this one up. --Christina Roden