Hive Mind and Sing-A-Song Fighter are delighted to present to you their first collaborative release, the amazing solo guitar album from legendary Congolese guitarist Kahanga Dekula aka ”Vumbi”.
At last, Mr Dekula is finally releasing an instrumental solo guitar album after more than 40 years of playing lead guitar in numerous great bands and orchestras.
Vumbi, who now lives in Sweden, is one of Europe's greatest ambassadors for Congolese music, has got a special story to tell and he uses his magnificent, infectious guitar playing to do so...
Vumbi and the guitar go back a long time.
Born with polio in the Kivu province of North Eastern Congo, Vumbi grew up in a Swedish missionary home and picked up the guitar at an early age. Listening intently to the radio, he learned the style and rhythms of Rumba and Soukous from the giants of the Congolese guitar sound, Dr Nico and Franco.
"Listening and playing Soukous music makes you feel happy to be alive and you just have to dance to it no matter what".
In the early 80’s Vumbi emigrated to Tanzania where he successfully auditioned to play lead guitar for the legendary group Orchestra Maquis. He toured extensively with the band, and from them he earned the nickname Vumbi, his solos being one of the main attractions of Orchestra Maquis' live shows.
He moved to Sweden in the early '90s and played in numerous bands including the Makonde Band with Ugandan artist Sammy Kasule and Ahmadu Jarr's Highlife Orchestra. In 2008 Vumbi put together his own group, The Dekula Band, playing his beloved rumba and Soukous every saturday night to an eager crowd of dancers in a worn and faded restaurant in Stockholm called Lilla Wien. Vumbi has since taken the group's infectious and hypnotoic sound to Stockholm Jazz Festival, Face Z in Geneva and festivals and shows around Europe.
Swedish producer Karl-Jonas Winqvist (founder of Sing-A-Song Fighter and member of Senegalese/Swedish act Wau Wau Collectif) has been a longtime fan of Vumbi Dekula’s artistry which led to him releasing The Dekula Band's debut album ”Opika” in 2019 with the Dekula Band.
While watching the band perform was always a blast, says Karl Jonas, his desire to hear Vumbi play on his own, without the thunderous drums, wailing saxophones and chanting vocals grew in his mind, “Because, in a way, Vumbi’s guitar playing is like an orchestra on its own. And the idea of just concentrating on all the amazing riffs and beautiful, uplifting melodies was just so appealing”.
Karl-Jonas proposed the idea of producing a solo album to Vumbi, and within a week the production process began
Recorded in two days during lockdown at the Helter Skelter Studios in Stockholm, Karl and Vumbi allowed the music to guide them. Vumbi was inspired to play 2nd guitar adding some harmonies and melodies here and there, and on the final track (”UN Forces Get Out of the DR of Congo”) he introduced a banjo into the world of ”Congo guitar”. Karl Jonas started up his old rhythm box machine to some of the songs to see how Vumbi and his playing would react to it. Elsewhere, wordless backing vocals from Karl-Jonas and Emma Nordenstam were added to Maamajacy, bass melodica by Karl-Jonas appears on Weekend, and a little piano tinkering from Emma adds some sparkle to Zuku. But clearly, Vumbi's virtuoso playing remains the star of Congo Guitar.