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World Music CD Reviews Africa

COCO SUKALI

By Brian Grosjean
Published February 17, 2006

Congo River
Mayombe Records

Coco Sukali is Fernand Tchikainzi’s band. He has a voice as clear and supple as Papa Wemba’s, and a band as tight as any soukous dance band. The songs come over easy, rolling off his tongue and dripping with Congolese rumba. The vocals make the jump to English, and the change is hardly noticeable. This album is destined for the developing Western taste for intelligent dance music using more of the body and less of the feet. More so, it was recorded in New York, where Tchikainzi is working, adding another Western influence. However, the authentic sound remains due to Tchikainzi’s personal style of songwriting. His outstanding guitarist is Dominic Kanza, a mainstay with Papa Wemba and a veteran of Paul Simon’s Graceland tour. Other members of the band add their Soukous Stars experience to make this album truly stand out as an authentic return to soukous roots. Maybe some day the rest of the world will catch on.