Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Syran M'Benza 4: More Sessions

This post is Part 4 of a four part series, a celebration of the career of guitarist Syran M'Benza upon release of his new CD Immortal Franco: Africa's Unrivalled Guitar Legend.
Parts 1, 2 & 3 of this series are below and on the previous page. If you have not seen them already, I recommend that you start there!

Syran M'Benza Part 4: More Sessions
Compilation 4: https://rcpt.yousendit.com/719346210/5546b0217de8d14acda6e6e12cc4e84c
This compilation contains one song from each of the albums pictured on this page.

We start off with a song from a solo album by Kekele collaborator Bumba Massa. Bumba Massa worked with Syran M'Benza in Vicky Longomba's Lovy du Zaire in the early 70s and with Bavon Marie Marie, Franco's brother, in the late 60s. He has made a number of very good albums in between. This is the only one that I have on which Syran participated. And it's a great record!

In earlier posts in this series, you were able to hear songs from Richard Dick's Africamania production label. Here is another.

Asi Kapela is an artist I do not know much about. Many people in the west have, however heard a song from the LP featured here. The song Yo Yo Yo was on a very popular compilation album, Sound D'Afrique. In the compilation here, however, I have included the title song.

Another producer and label mentioned frequently in the previous posts is Eddy Gustave and his Eddy'son label. Gustave produced albums under the Eddy'son, Disques SONICS and K'Dance names. Here are four LPs from Gustave's labels that feature Syran M'Benza on guitar.

Lea Lignanzi and Domingo Salsero, from Central African Republic, are featured artists on other Eddy Gustave and Richard Dick albums. Lea's song Dede Priscilla from his album of the same name is also featured on the Sound D'Afrique compilation. Usually, the solo guitarist is Master Mwana Congo. On both albums above, it is Syran M'Benza who takes the lead with Pablo Lubadika accompanying.

On these two, Syran's guitar accompanies the solos of Master Mwana Congo.

Like the Eddy'son and Africamania labels, another producer who employed Syran M'Benza for sessions was Ibrahim Ba of the African Music Gallery in Washington, D.C.. I have no idea how many albums I bought at his stores, but I bought many simply because I saw Syran's name on the sleeve. Included here is a killer song from a solo album by Empire Bakuba singer Misha M'Fum.

I've mentioned that Syran M'Benza did not always play lead on some sessions that he contributed to. Another artist whose albums usually featured Master Mwana Congo accompanied by Syran was Theo Blaise Kounkou. This is one of those albums.

Syran played solo or lead guitar on any number of solo ventures by other artists, some well known, others more obscure. Here are a few examples.

Jean Raph Loumbet's LP features Syran's long time guitar collaborators Rigo Star and Mayindov Pyrrath (Pirate) as well as vocalists Theo Blaise and Passy Jo.
On Lady Isa's album we hear J.P. Ramazani on vocals and rhythm guitar by Bopol Mansiamina.

On Awilo Longomba's CD -his best IMHO - we hear singers Sam Mangwana and the late Dindo Yogo as well as Syran on lead guitar and Pablo Lubadika on bass. Ya Mauro, another artist I know little about, has Syran M'Benza on lead guitar accompanied by Ya Mauro and Bopol Mansiamina on bass.

Syran M'Benza does play lead guitar on other recordings by other artists, but not necessarily on every song. The next few albums are examples of this. I've picked songs for which he is actually given credit on the liner notes for specific tracks, including two from Congolese-born American salsero Ricardo Lemvo, and others where he is credited, but not for any particular tracks, and I believe that I hear his distinctive style. The last song here is the remake of a classic from Sam Mangwana's Rumba Music. Appropriate to end this with, don't you think?


  1. DN
    You have no idea just how exhaustive these series of presentations on Syran are. I am very impressed by the body of vast academic research that went into writing up these 4 part series.
    And thanks for sharing, I am amazed at this guys output of very impressive recordongs most of which I havent heard before

  2. Wuod, thanks for your interest and for taking a moment to comment.
    Actually, I must be Syran M'Benza's biggest fan. I've been buying his records and other records, as stated on the posts, just because his name was them ever since I first heard him play on an African All Stars record close to 30 years ago. So this was not only a joy to do, it was pretty easy.

  3. Once my machine is up and running I will have to listen to this stuff, continue with the good work

  4. Do it at work.
    If they fire you, at least you leave happy!

  5. this is great stuff, thanks so much for posting stuff from my favorite guitarist. Much here I did not know of. What about the Kass-Kass stuff? That's good too!
    David S

  6. David S:
    Thanks for your comments!
    Kass Kass is mentioned here: