ARTIST: Samba Mapangala & Orchestra Virunga
TITLE: “Maisha Ni Matamu (Life Is Sweet)” / “Zanzibar”
REVIEW: The well-traveled Samba Mapangala is a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, achieved his greatest success and fame in Kenya, and now lives in Maryland. He’s one of the best-loved East African singers, specializing in the mellifluous rumba Congolaise that will probably never go out of style in Congo, Kenya and Tanzania. His new album is scheduled for release this spring; these two songs are a teaser, and they promise another album of top-shelf music. Samba is supported here by a cracking small band featuring Zaiko Langa Langa’s Beniko Popolipo on solo guitar and Syran Mbenza of Kekele and the Four Stars on rhythm guitar; Kekele’s Wuta Mayi joins in on vocals. If you saw Samba at the Richmond Folk Festival in 2009, this is more of the same – world-class East African music from a guy who almost qualifies for WRIR’s local music shelf. In fact, the album was recorded in Arlington VA along with Paris and Nairobi.
REVIEWER: Bill Lupoletti
RECOMMENDED TRACKS: 1 2