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Kékélé (a species of Lianes in Lingala language) is a collective of older Congolese musicians trying to revitalise the old Congolese rumba of OK Jazz, Ry-Co Jazz or Les Bantous de la Capitale. In a way comparable to what Buenavista Social Club was for Cuban music, but much less a well-planned marketing project, Kékélé started as a lose ensemble a revival that had its prelude in a couple of rumba albums of the 1990s by Mose Se Fan Fan and Wendo Kolosy. After a period of casual jam sessions, they were ready to record a fist album in 2001, produced by Ibrahima Sylla.

The member list of Kékélé reads as a who-is-who in Congolese rumba music. Lead singers Bumba Massa (Orchestre Lovy du Zaire), Loko "Djeskain" Massengo (Trio Madjesi) are stars from the 1960s and 1970s. Jean-Papy Ramazani has been a singer in various bands like Vox Africa, Conga Succes, Orchestre Vévé and Kass-Kass. Nyboma, Wuta Mayi and guitarist Syran M'Benza are three of the four members of 1980s super group Les Quatre Etoiles. Other members include Nedule Papa Noel, a guitarist who had played in several bands before joining Franco's TPOK Jazz, and Cameroonian keyboard player, singer, and arranger Yves Ndjock.
In 2003, Papa Noel (due to his illness), Ramazani and Yves Ndjock are no longer part of the group. Replacement on guitar came from Rigo Star (Rigobert Bamundélé) who has played on dozens of albums, among others with Mbilia Bel, Sam Mangwana and earlier with Viva la Musica.
On the new 2006 album « Kinavana », Papa Noel returns after his illness, and Manu Dibango features on saxophone on several tracks.

The music of Kékélé is a light version of Congolese rumba, classic, relaxed, with great acoustic guitar interplay and sweet vocals.

Style: Congolese rumba.


Title Year Label Remarks
Kinavana 2006 Stern's STCD 1101 F: Cantos
Congo Life 2003 Stern's STCD 1097
Rumba Congo 2001 Stern's STCD 1093

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