PORTLAND – An 11-piece Congolese rumba ensemble, Kékélé, will perform two sets of dance music at the Center for Cultural Exchange on Tuesday, May 4, starting at 7:30 p.m.

Kékélé is a Lingala word for a fibrous vine that climbs trees in the tropical forests of the Congo River basin. Ropes woven from kékélé are still sometimes used to build bridges across forest streams. By calling their group Kékélé, Papa Noel, Syran Mbenza, Wuta-Mayi, Nyboma Mwan Dido, Jean-Papy Ramazani, Loko Massengo, Bumba Massa and Yves Ndjock seem to be thinking of their long career paths as strands woven together to make something strong.

The golden era for Rumba Congolaise – an irresistible mix of Cuban rumba and African rhythms – was in the ’60s, when it reflected the optimism of the newly independent African nations. Kékélé brings this sound back to life. Enchanting vocals, vivacious rhythms and spellbinding guitar-based dance make the Congolese Rumba uplifting and joyous.

Both singers, Bumba Massa and Loko Massengo, have careers dating back to the ’60s, while the rest of the vocal contingent were founders of a soukous group, Les Quatre Étoiles, in the ’80s.

Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 at the door. They are available at www.centerforculturalex-change.org; by calling 761-1545; or at Bull Moose Music stores. FMI: call 761-0591, ext. 109.

or by e-mail at [email protected]


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