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African rhythms went over to the Caribbean, then found their way back to Africa centuries later. Starting in the 1930's and maintaining its astounding popularity through the late '60s, Cuban rumba blared from radios and orchestras in Kinshasa, the cosmopolitan capital of the Congo. Here, in one of African music¹s most fertile breeding grounds, Congolese musicians adopted and adapted the sounds, singing first in Spanish, then increasingly in Lingala and other languages, adding typical African guitar progressions.

It was into this rich musical mixture that Ricardo Lemvo was born. He grew up in Kinshasa listening to the sounds of the Cuban big bands and Congolese rumba, and always knew he wanted to be a musician. After school and a few stints with bands, he moved to Southern California with his parents, and pursued higher education with music on the side. Lemvo formed Makina Loka in 1990 in order to expand the ideas of the founding father of Congolese rumba by combining the Cuban son montuno (predecesor of salsa music) and the newer soukous sound of Kinshasa. The sound is striking.

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival

Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca
Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca

Tight horn and piano arrangements do justice to the Latin side, while spiraling guitars and Lemvo¹s rich voice solidify the African roots. Tata Masamba, his first album, was released independently in 1994, and instantly became an underground hit in world music circles. Signed to Putumayo Records, Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loka released Mambo Yo Yo in 1998 to good reviews, and last year released S‹o Salvador to full fledged media raves. Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loka bring their sizzling dance music to the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, sure to incite passion, excitement and furious footwork in all who catch their set!

 

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