Mamu Productions  "Movement of African Music" - JAPAN

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B.B. MO - FRANCK

 

AFRICASOUNDS is proud to present another feature article to recognize the considerable achievements of a superb African artist.  B.B. Mo-Franck, currently residing in Japan, is a Congolese musician who deserves worldwide recognition.  B.B. Mo-Franck has achieved considerable acclaim in Japan over the past two decades by performing both traditional Central African music as well as perfecting his unique brew of fusion.  For all those who are interested in contacting B.B. Mo-Franck, he can be reached on the internet at mamuprod@gol.com

B.B. Mo-Franck is the band leader of both BITASIKA and JAMBO.  Born in Kinshasa, R.D. of Congo, B.B. Mo-Franck is also a  Belgian technical school graduate.  He started his musical career as a bassist at age of 16, and subsequently learned to play piano and percussions by himself. B.B. Mo-Franck's complete name is Bedjil Botango, although he is more familiarly known by his nick name which is BB. Mo-Franck.  He has bived in Japan for twelve years working as a professional musician.  Originally a bassist, now he plays predominantly piano and percussion.   In Congo, B.B. Mo-Franck was not playing Congolese popular music, because it was too local and he was trying to change it by adding external musical influences to it.  While in Congo, he worked closely with Ray Lema.

Later, he joined the Black Devils band, which was a famous band that only played Western music.  At the time, the Black Devils were travelling thoughout Africa, but he finally settled in Kenya.

It was in Kenya that B.B. Mo-Franck had the opportunity to participate in the first Kenyan movie, entitled "Bushstrikers," which was produced by Garry Strike.  B.B. Mo-Franck composed the musical sound track for this landmark film. 

Rather than leading a life solely playing Western music in restaurants for tourists, B.B. Mo-Franck broke away from his core musicians and began to create his vision of an international music that mixed African sounds with Western sounds. 

In 1983, a group of Japanese came to Kenya looking for musicians to perform for a peace concert commenorating the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs.   THe audition was held in Nairobi's conservatoir school.  B.B. Mo-Franck won the competition and formed his first band which he took to Japan. 

When B.B. Mo-Franck returned back to Kenya in 1984, he regrouped and reformed his band by recruiting professional musicians.  He named the band Vundumuna, and two years later they became the top band of the moment.

In 1987, B.B. Mo-Franck managed to bring Vundumuna to Jpan for a six month contract within Tokyo.  Vundumuna was the first pure African band to play live in Tokyo. 

The next year, B.B. Mo-Franck formed a new band called Bitasika, which means "New Taste." Bitasika was an exciting mix of African and Japanese musicians.  It was about this time that B.B. Mo-Franck found his niche: his idea was to mix Western musical aspects with African roots and traditions. 

Mo Frank 1.JPG (11881 bytes)  The band Bitasika is a band made up of both Africans and Japanese.  The band's works mixed in some Asian musical elements into Franck's original music style of Vundumuna.  Bitasika played at many occasions including concerts for the public, NGO events and local goverment events.  The band also toured and played to over 700 schools throughout Japan.   In 1994,  B.B. Mo-Franck formed another  band, entitled Jambo, to play African traditional music. Jambo was the result of continuous requests of the population to expand his musical repitoire to more fully explore his African roots.  Jambo is fulling a void in presenting authentic African music to the Japanese populace.

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B.B. Mo-Franck's unique way of observing things brought him to a field of giving lectures to students as well as various boards of education, rotary clubs, etc.  B.B. Mo-Franck has also appeared on many advertisement campaigns in Japan including TV-CF's, Sony, Suntory, Asahi beer and Kirin beer.  In December 1998, he startred playing percussion for the Lion King musical of Gekida-n Shiki. 

AFRICASOUNDS is thrilled to have been introduced to the wonderful sounds of B.B. Mo-Franck.  We will be following up this feature with an in-depth look at his two albums, which are pictured above.  Please email us with any comments at webmaster@africasounds.com