AfricaSounds presents a photo album from the recent New Year's Eve concert of Wenge Maison Mere.  The tour was promoted by Swiss based promoter Molinjgo Kabba who has been an important figure in promoting Congolese and African music in Switzerland.

Werrason and his entourage with Hortense Fuller of AfricaSounds, backstage at the New Year's Eve Switzerland show December 31, 2000.  Photo by Bikutsi 1.

 

 

On stage, Werrason leads  Wenge Maison Mere through the latest dance moves at the live New Year's Eve festival in Biel, Switzerland, on December 31st, 2000.  (Photo by Hortense Fuller)

The group that night consisted of the following musicians:

Wenge Musica Maison Mere

bulletNgiama Makanda "Werrason" - Singer and President/Leader of group
bulletGola "Ferre" - Singer and Chef d'orchestre
bulletBaby Ndombe - Singer
bulletJus d'ete Mulopwe - Singer
bulletLacoste - Singer
bulletAdjani - Singer
bulletSerge Mabiala - Singer
bulletAimelia - Singer
bulletKalongji "Bill Clinton" - Animateur
bulletCe Leo - Animateur
bulletFlam Kapaga - Solo guitar 1
bulletBurkina Faso - Solo guitar 2
bulletJaponaise - Artistic Director
bulletMimiche - Bassist
bulletKakol - Drummer
bulletShora - Congas
bulletThierry - Synthe
bulletJeanne, Bercy and Beija - Dancers
bulletElliot Mondobe - Secretary General of Group
bulletAmbassadeur Quija Brown - Europe Representative

* note that this was group composition as of December 31, 2000.

 

Much of the excitement of Werrason's live show is caught in the recent live album by Werrason: "Bercy 2000: Le Live du Millenaire", widely available on JPS Productions.  The mix, which takes into account the tremendous crowd noise and excitement, is a jubulent and somewhat rowdy affair that really acts as a passport to the historic concert.  However, without the accompanying videos and images, it is difficult to envision the entire event that apparently embodied spectacle as much as the music that night.  The live album on JPS includes the following songs: "La Paix est Universelle" which is the choral introduction to the show, "Solala Bien," the groups largest hit from their last album of the same name on JPS Productions, "Augustine Ngaly," and "Vita Imana" and finally "Heritier Itele" and "Chantal Swizerland."  The songs range from 10 to 15 minutes on average and include extended sabene sections where the guitarists and animateurs are allowed to shine.

During our interview with Werrason, we learned about his upcoming solo project which is currently being completed in Paris.  Slated for release by JPS Productions, the set will feature Werrason on vocals in a wide array of musical styles, highlighting the song composition and melody - hence a renewed focus on song structure.  Several guests are expected to appear on the project.  Werrason disclosed to AfricaSounds that both Meiway (of Cote D'Ivoire) and Manu Dibango (of Cameroon) were making studio appearances to participate on the upcoming album.

Werrason also highlighted his two most recent productions, including the Live album recording at Bercy on JPS, as well as the remix album 
"Terrain Eza Mine," on ETS Ndiaye, which features the guitar contributions of Burkina Faso, who had recently joined Wenge Musica Maison Mere.

  

Highlights on the remix album include the following:

bulletThe reworked "Terrain Eza Mine," which includes delicious guitar licks by Burkina Faso. 
bullet"Voyage" and its companion instrumental, which highlight the vocal abilities of the group.
bullet"Intervention Rapid" the dance number from their earlier album by the same name.
bullet"Kalayi Boeing" which is Werrason's anthem
bullet"PDG Makambo" which has some spectacular moments of musicianship.

One of the outstanding aspects of this remix album is the presence that Burkina Faso lends to the production.  His guitar not only soars above the music, but it has a remarkable swing to it.  In fact, the whole album swings from start to finish in a way that many of the other contemporary releases just don't do at the moment. 

Keep your eyes out for the upcoming Werrason solo release.  Until next time.... AfricaSounds