When: Sun., July 20, 1 p.m. 2014
Ricardo Lemvo has had plenty of time to become fluent in the music of the Americas—now 56, he moved to Los Angeles from Kinshasa with his father when he was 15, and since 1990 he’s been refining a hybridized take on Congolese soukous with his band Makina Loca. Soukous is already a hybrid style, of course—it’s a Congolese response to Cuban son, which borrowed rhythms brought to the island by African slaves—but Lemvo adds dollops of modern salsa and other Caribbean styles. His reach has never been broader than it is on the new La Rumba SoYo (Cumbancha), recorded in the U.S., Canada, France, and Angola, which borders Congo in central Africa; the Angolan rhythms semba and kizomba (related to samba and merengue) have entered his arsenal. La Rumba SoYo delivers a slick amalgam of sounds Lemvo has picked up over the years, and though the production style is so polished as to be nearly toothless, the performances bubble with infectious energy. The best tracks tend to be driving salsa numbers such as “Kari Kuyéyé,” where pianist Jesús Pérez sings in Spanish to Lemvo’s Lingala. Whatever the weaknesses of the album, onstage this band builds a fire under its cauldron of rhythms till the dance floor erupts into an unstoppable party—and at that point, the only people trying to parse the genre hopping in Makina Loca’s tunes are the ones sitting on their asses. —Peter Margasak Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca also play at the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park on Fri 7/18 at 7 PM and at the Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival at 5:30 PM.