Kanda Bongo Man | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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I fear I might burn out on African music if I don't give it a little rest pretty soon. So I will. But not until after this weekend's appearance by the Kanda Bongo Man, who's absolutely too cool to miss. In a form--soukous--that for all its vibrancy has been criticized by some for not having changed much over the past several decades, Kanda is an upstart innovator. Where, for instance, other Congolese groups tend to start with a ballad and then shift into a long dance break, Kanda usually dispenses with the slow stuff, kick-starting his songs straight into high gear. Where his elders sing long, flowing lines of rich harmony, Kanda sometimes leans more toward shorter melodic phrases and staccato shouts. Perhaps his style has been affected by the fast pace of life in Paris (he moved there in 1979 from Zaire); at any rate, it's a sound profoundly in touch with the times, and it's established him as the foremost soukous voice of his generation. Those who attended last month's show by Tabu Ley Rochereau--who's great, but a bit past his prime--may be especially interested in seeing a soukous master who's at the peak of his powers right now. Today, 5 and 11 PM Dreamerz, 1516 N. Milwaukee; 252-1155.

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