Tabu Ley Rochereau (1940-2013)

Tabu Ley Rochereau also known as "Le Seigneur" is one of the nestors of African music in general and of Congolese music in particular. He started his career in Joseph "Grand Kalle" Kabasele's African Jazz in 1959. Four years later, an important defection took place, and Tabu Ley left to create l'African Fiesta together with guitar hero Docteur Nico and Dechaud. Tabu and Nico didn't work together for long, and Tabu continued with African Fiesta National (Dr. Nico went along with his African Fiesta Sukisa faction). By the mid-1960s, the Congolese music scene was at its most prolific, and numerous spin-off bands from either the modern 'international' African jazz clan or the rootsier OK Jazz clan appeared (cf. Ewens 1994).

Tabu Ley constantly innovated through introducing elements from salsa, soul and disco, but also makossa and zouk to the Congolese rumba and he sung sometimes in French or English, unlike his rival and contemporary Franco Luambo Makiadi. He also toured extensively on the African continent outside Congo and after renaming his band in Afrisa International in 1970, he travelled to Paris to perform in the prestigious Olympia venue. This international success reflected on his popularity back home where he was feted as a national hero (cf. Graham, 1989).

In the 1970s, Tabu Ley continued to tour, he recruted the brilliant Sam Mangwana and increased the size of the Afrisa band. He added les Rocherettes, a group of female dancers and singers. One of them, M'bilia Bel would become a solo singer within Afrisa later on. Another highlight of that decade was the FESTAC 1977 performance, resulting in a double album. In the 1980s, Tabu Ley established his own production company and label Genidia, and several albums were released, some in duet with Mbilia Bel, with whom he was married until 1988. In that year, Tabu Ley introduced a young female singer, Faya Tess. Kiesse Diambu joined the band at the beginning of the decade, but left in 1983 for OK Jazz joining his brother Ntesa Dalienst.

Tabu Ley
Tabu Ley (picture: Phillip Gould) 
In the 1990s, international success was achieved with albums such as « Babeti Soukous », « Muzina », and « Exil Ley ». Still backed by vocalists Faya Tess, Bonane Wawali, Munoko Dodo Gisalu, Beyou Ciel, Lukombo Djeffard Mayemba and guitarist Nseka Huit Kilos, Afrisa has lost some of its outstanding members but they also benefited from the World Music hype that was en vogue.
Tabu Ley has lived abroad for several years (USA, Brussels, Paris), because he was not on good terms with President Mobutu. Since the ending of the Mobutu era in Congo, Tabu Ley returned to his country, and entered politics and he occasionally toured. Some of his band members (such as Nseka Huit Kilos, Dodo Munoko, Wawali Bonane) stayed in the United States. In 2008, Tabu Ley suffered a stroke, from which he was recovering slowly. He died in the Brussels Saint Luc Hospital on 30 November 2013, leaving behind 68 children.

Born: 13 November 1940, as Pascal Emmanuel Sinamoyi (Tabu and Ley were his parents' names, he adopted their names during the Authenticité campaign), in Bagata, Bandundu province
Died: Died 30 November 2013 in Brussels
Style: Congolese rumba, odemba, soukous, African jazz

A Selective CD Discography
Title Year Label Remarks
The Voice of Lightness vol.2 (1977-1993) 2010 Stern's STCD3056-57 Compilation, 2CD
L'intégral de l'Olympia 2007 Syllart 823448 Live recording 1970
The Voice of Lightness (1961-1977) 2007 Stern's STCD3027-28 Compilation, 2CD
Classic Titles 2006 Cantos Compilation
Sorozo - 1977/1978 2006 Syllart 823435 Compilation, with Afrisa International
Jolie Elie 2006 Syllart 823434 Compilation
Pitié - 1971/1972/1973 2006 Syllart 823433 Compilation
Rochereau Tabu Ley - les années 70 2006 Syllart 823432 Compilation
Rochereau et l'African Fiesta - 1968-1969 2006 Syllart 823431 Compilation
Rochereau et l'African Fiesta - 1966/1969 2006 Syllart 823430 Compilation
Ndaya Paradis (1962/1963/1964) 2006 Syllart 823429 Compilation
Nico - Rochereau - Kwamy & l'African Fiesta 2006 Syllart 823428 Compilation
Kaful Mayay - 1973/1974/1975 2006 Syllart 823427 Compilation
Rochereau & l'African Fiesta - 1964/1965/1966 2006 Syllart 823426 Compilation
Rochereau, Mujos & Nico: Maria Chantal 2006 Syllart 823425 Compilation
Sacramento avec Canta Nyboma 2006 Syllart 823424 Compilation
Tete Nakozonga 1972-1973 2006 Syllart 823423 Compilation
Rochereau, Sam Mangwana & l'African Fiesta National 2006 Syllart 823422 Compilation
Rochereau et Franco: Lisanga Ya Banganga 2006 Syllart 823421 Compilation, 2CD
Rochereau et l'Afrisa International - 1971/1977 2006 Syllart 823420 Compilation
A l'Olympia (Paris) - 1970 2006 Syllart 823419 Studio recording with fake audience applause
Rochereau et l'African Fiesta National 1966/1967/1968 2006 Syllart 823418 Compilation
African Fiesta - Nico / Rochereau: Makila Eyina Nzoto 2006 Syllart 823417 Compilation
Nico, Kwamy, Rochereau et l'African Fiesta 2006 Syllart 823416 Compilation
Tempelo 2002 Sono CDS8989
Kebo Beat 1997 Sonima SMCD 1190
Africa Worldwide (35th Anniversary Album) 1996 Rounder Records CD 5039
Baby Pancake - Aba! (with Bopol & Syran) 1995 Sonodisc CDS6829 / African Music Gallery AMG-012-CD
Muzina 1994 Rounder Records CD 5059
Exil-Ley 1993 Tamaris CD 92019
Feu d'artifice - Lisanga ya Banganga 1992 Sonodisc CDS 5505 With Pepe Kalle
Babeti Soukous 1989 Real World RWCD5
Vinyl Discography (very incomplete, under construction):
Faya Tess: Moto Akokufa 1988 Genidia GEN 125 LP
Beyou Ciel: Ebouroumounkoue 1988 Genidia GEN 124 LP
Tabu Ley lance Faya Tess 1987 Genidia GEN 123 LP
Le seigneur Rochereau dans la musique congolaise de variétés 1970 ISA R 102 LP
Merveilles du passé African Fiesta 1962/1963 1987 African 360.163 LP, with Nico, Rochereau, Izedi, Dechaud, Mujos and Depuissant
Merveilles du passé African Fiesta 1962/1963 1987 African 360.162 LP, with Nico, Rochereau, Izedi
Merveilles du passé 1963 1987 African 360.161 LP, with Nico, Rochereau, Dechaud, Mizele & African Fiesta

Ewens, Graeme (1994) Congo Colossus, Buku Press.
Graham, Ronnie (1989), Stern's Guide to Contemporary African Music. Pluto Press. [external link]

Page added October 2007