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Memories of Jazz in RumbianFunk: Nkumu Katalay Takes Kinshasa to Abidjan

Nkumu Katalay
Nkumu Katalay

If there is one thing that unites most francophone African nations it’s the similarity of their tunes and dance movements, regardless of the variant of this their shared cultural property hinged on melody and tunes, whether its Congoles Rumba, Soukus, Makossa or Coupe Decale , most people cannot tell the difference as the sonorous voice of the artists maintains a harmonious crescendo that infectiously drives one to sway to and fro for the beats.

Nkumu Katalay has emerged as a new afropolitan leading the charge for maintaining the place of Congolese  rumba in the global music space as a dominant afro tune like  his predecessors like Koffi Olomide and Fally Ipupa has done or is still doing.

 The new Congolese break out star, who is proudly recording and pushing his Afrocentric rhythms dubbed RumbianFunk  from New York City, dreams of re-igniting the love and passion for Rumba In the social space, as it was in the 70ties and of recent as well in the 90ties, when the likes of Awilo Longomba, Kofi Olomide were the music of choice at parties and events in cities like Lagos.

Nkumu Katalay’s recent musical odyssey took him from New York as usual to Abidjan this time, where he owned the Ivorian month of November from the 7th to the 13th in series of events that includes a concert,workshop ,exhibition,poetry jam and paper presentation. Prior to his departure to the west African nation,he opened and performed with Kofi Olomide  on the 5th of November in New York City.

Departed for Cote d’Ivoire on the 6th of November  for first edition of  jazzrendezvous  on the invitation of Honored Consulate Member of Cote d’Ivoire,  Darlene KILIAN, English Language Fellow with the US Embassy in Cote d’Ivoire to headline the Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund (CDAF) project dubbed“JaZzRendezvous”.

Nkumu katalay was selected to headline the Project by the musical director of the jaZzrendezvous project, Maestro Constant Boty, an Ivorian Jazz musician whom Nkumu has collaborated with on his “Shine On” Afro Jazz Project dedicated to the late Koffi Annan in NYC in 2018 .

The “JaZz Rendezvous” highlights how jazz is part of the quest for freedom, democracy and civil rights. And the place of Jazz as a universal tool for promoting peace, dialogue, diversity and respect for human dignity. This project  incorporated traditional Ivorian rhythms, beats and instruments to showcase the versatility of Ivorian music and musicians, while demonstrating how jazz – a music genre created by African Americans over 100 years ago -bridges borders and connects people from around the world.

U.S. and Ivorian musicians, linguists, artists, students and music lovers learned from one another and pay homage to the world of jazz. Renowned American and Ivorian jazz musicians joined the event live and via Zoom as  Americans were afforded the opportunity to learn the unique sounds of Ivorian music through radio programming.

During his week long trip, Nkumu Katalay was fruitfully engaged as he held a class at the Institute superior of the Arts and Culture (INSAAC) on the 8th, had his rehearsal  on the 9th  which he topped with an amazing performance on the  10th at Menekre Legend  in the city of Abidjan,  which he continued with another exhilarating  artistic performance on the 11th of November at Jahlive in the Grand Bassam, and followed it up with a music workshop at the National Museum of Costume  where the fashion of Jazz was showcased through a fashion show presented by Jazz dancers and a special exhibition at the museum .

There was a  jazz poetry slam at the Grand Bassam concert explicating how  jazz has been interpreted in both French and English verse.  At the American Space of the Universite’ Felix-Houphouet Boigny (UFHB) Abidjan, the country’s largest public university, ethno-musicology professor Dr. Hien Sie  rounded up the top notch activities with his introspective presentation on the evolution of African jazz.

In all this Nkumu Katalay stood out for the multi-cultural flavour of his style, being an ardent communicator, delivering his music with Lingala, French and  his great understanding  and command of English language helps him to connect with his audience in an amazing way, regardless of their linguistic appendage.

It is a statement of fact that Nkumu Katalay has arrived and is on the brink of bringing the modern consumers of African cultural contents to their  knees for more of his musical constructions, for his blend of  Congolese RumbianFunk is garnering wild acceptance and his name is soaring along with it.

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