Country : Cameroon / Canada (Quebec) Label : Miss-Meuré Genres and styles : African Jazz / Afro-Cuban / Afropop / Salsa Year : 2020

Kessaï

· by Ralph Boncy

The voice is reminiscent of Lokua Kanza and Richard Bona. In both cases, that’s a huge compliment to the Montreal singer Justin, aka Just Wôan. A stopover in Quebec from Douala, and this ambitious guy simply settles here. Now the father of little Sophia, he branched off from his solo career and set up this ultra-multi-ethnic octet, bringing together seven nationalities. Welcome to Montreal, baby! The goal of this crazy bet? Administering an authentic history lesson in a few dance steps, for an audience that will be eager to get moving this summer to finally break free post-confinement – if COVID-19 ever allows us to do so, and if the good Dr. Aruda gives us the green light. But let’s not dream – it’s unlikely, as we all know. The only option we have for now is to throw ourselves into this first Bantü Salsa album and listen to it with the windows open during the next heatwave, or while jogging alone with headphones – and mask, of course.

It’s been a few millennia since the Bantu people, with their hundreds of languages and dialects, expanded their borders east and south, leaving the sub-Saharan borders and forests to the pygmies and extending into West Africa, Central Africa, Angola and to the gates of South Africa. In terms of sound, the most brilliant thing in the music of this consortium with an intriguing and unusual name is the presence of Diely Mori Tounkara, the Malian magician with his luminous kora, whether it springs spontaneously at the beginning of a solo or is limited to spare but effective rhythmic support.

And what do these songs tell us? Apart from the love for his native land, his mother, his girlfriend and his daughter, the bassist and singer remarks in the title song that the frontier between work and slavery “is more porous than ever”. He also observes that it is a consequence of the slave trade – as early as the sixteenth century – that the children of Africa “are now all over the world” before proclaiming, without any embarrassment, “In every corner of this planet, I feel at home”.

We take him at his word!

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