"Congolese Rumba in New York"

By Hortense Fuller

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Dominic Kanza and his band, the African Rhythm Machine, have provided some of the best Congolese rumba music in the New York region.   AfricaSounds has decided to feature Dominic, and his most recent CD "CONGO!" in order to highlight this important musician.  Kanza not only runs a superb band, but has been an important addition to several critical recordings over the years.  The African Rhythm Machine and Kanza have graced many a stage over the past several music seasons in the New York area.  Some of the more notable appearances witnessed by AfricaSounds included the Brooklyn Afrerica festival, SOB'S (the famed world music nightclub in Manhattan) and most recently at the Zinc Bar in a pared down four member group. 

Kanza was born in Zaire and raised in London.  An excellent guitarist and very good vocalist as well, Kanza has been in demand as a musician to join some legends in music, including Congolese superstar Papa Wemba, Pharaoh Sanders, Michael Brecker and Bill Laswell. 

Kanza moved to the United States in 1989 worked extensively with singer/songwriter Paul Simon.  With Simon, Dominic Kanza collaborated on President Clinton's Inaugural Ball, and Simon's annual "Back at the Ranch" sereis.  Kanza has also recorded with friend/composer Bob Telson (Baghdad Cafe) and worked on the Broadway musical "Chronical of a Death Foretold."  Kanza also wrote the score for the National Geographic television documentary film, "The Zaire River," and also wrote and performed one of the theme songs for "The Opray Winfrey Show."  In 1993, Kanza was presented the Award of Excellence from the United Nations Writers Association.  He was one of only 25 recipients worldwide, a group which included Mikhail Gorbachev and Vanessa Redgrave. 

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Kanza's most recent album, whose cover is pictured above, is entitled "CONGO!" and represents Kanza's belief that music is a universal language that defies all boundaries.   On the album, Kanza combines a classic style of Congolese Rumba with elements of musical fusion.  In fact, Kanza achieves an excellent result when he adds English vocals to the Rumba beat.  Unlike many albums which fall short of expectations when they mix in diverse elements, Kanza's stew is a unique hybrid which invokes dancing.  Email webmaster@africasounds if you have trouble finding this album.  AfricaSounds can lead you on the right path.