Ray Lema, a whole world !

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Ray Lema, a whole world !

The mythical Congolese musician played Saturday in Douala on the stage of the FCI (French Cultural Institute ) .

French Institute of Cameroon, Douala antenna, May 26, 2012.

It is just  8:00 pm and the dream of many spectators will come true, to see finally, live on stage , Ray Lema, son of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a global citizen. Thanks to the initiative of the theater  and world music Festival ” Scène d’Ébène” , the musician came for the first time to Cameroon.  After two concerts in Yaounde, it’s the turn of Douala  for this artist who has an abundant discography not counting a lot of different collaborations.

Douala is a special city for him, and he tells it to the public. He first has lived and imagined the city through the eyes and the sounds of Manu Dibango , with whom he was on the road and shared the stage in duo for three years, and  then with the great bass player Etienne Mbappe  who’s on stage with him tonight. To complete  the band, on stage at the FCI we have the cuban saxophonist Irving Acao and the french drummer  Nicolas Viccaro.

A multicultural quartet which tells perfectly the story of Ray Lema, who is on a perpetual journey, borned on a train, at ease in all registers, in all the vocal exercises. Crossing the world in each direction . For this show, he performs as a pianist, because he is also guitarist and percussionist. For the beginning, no need to talk or sing or comment anything. Just an instrumental piece that takes the accents of a  rumba ballad. With his nimble and expert fingers, the author of “99” wakes up  “Kinshasa la Belle ” of his youth. Fingers which all along  the show, according to the solos and dialogues with the other instruments, immerse themselves in the folk, swing, bebop, mandingo blues, tunes colored with  the Caribbean sun, creating a carnival atmosphere filled with creole latin sounds… It’s the same journey around the world with the  range of his voice, totally under control, although marked sometimes by the characteristics of the crooners of the zaïrense rumba, but taking as well intonations of a jazz poet, a griot of  West Africa or a bluegrass singer from the South of the United States.

The tour also took place in the discography of the artist who strolled the audience from one album to another, between “Ali Farka”, “Paradox”, “StopTime”, “Ata’Ndele”, “Yalelo” , “Yolele”, “São Tome”, “Nalelela”, “Jamais Kolonga”, “Lusala”, “Souira”… Tributes to artists missing, but also to his land, which he dedicated  his thoughts between two notes… sweet tones, never aggressive, capable to find the perfect chord with the public, which showed its assent by applause and shouts, happy to see a show at the height of the living legend, Ray Lema.

Rita Diba

Cameroon Tribune on May 29, 2012

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