Each Wednesday, The World Africa presents three musical novelties from or inspired by the continent. This week, travel to Benin – and through the ages – with the Star Feminine Band, a group of young girls full of the future, the Poly-Rythmo Orchestra of Cotonou, a legendary formation reissued by a British label, and Lionel Loueke , genius guitarist inspired by the jazz of Herbie Hancock.
« Peba », de Star Feminine Band
They are called Angélique, Urrice, Marguerite, Sandrine, Grace, Julienne and Anne, are between 10 and 16 years old and are the worthy heirs of Angélique Kidjo – “Our main inspiration”, recognizes André Baleguemon. The Star Feminine Band was born in 2016 in Natitingou (northeast) following a radio statement from the musician to train girls on a voluntary basis. Drums, keyboards, bass, guitar … “Some had never seen this kind of instrument! ” Dozens of concerts later, the group released, Friday, November 13, an album of eight tracks including Peba, which talks about the importance of school.
«Mi Kple Mi De», by the Poly-Rythmo Orchestra of Cotonou
Let us keep Angélique Kidjo as a common thread and remember that in her beginnings, she was accompanied by the Poly-Rythmo Orchestra of Cotonou, formed in 1969. The group “The most legendary in the country”, according to the French journalist and producer Florent Mazzoleni, has a bloated discography. He played with Fela Kuti, Manu Dibango, Miriam Makeba… In 1978, the “almighty” orchestra released an album without cover, simply referenced “ALS059”, which the British label Acid Jazz Records is reissuing today on vinyl. under the name of Sail, title of one of the three long pieces that make up the opus.
Cantaloupe Island, the Lionel Loueke
He also played with Angélique Kidjo, this summer, to interpret the anthem of Benin on the occasion of the 60e anniversary of the country’s independence. Just like her mentor, Herbie Hancock, who invited the singer on the song Safiatou, in 2005. In his album HH, released on October 16, guitarist Lionel Loueke, 47, pays tribute to the American jazzman by revisiting his most famous compositions: Cantaloupe Island, Watermelon Man, Rockit… The Beninese musician met the pianist in 2001, after having left Cotonou for the United States, then, from 2004, accompanied him on his tours.