Once a mainstay at Ashkenaz, the charismatic Congolese singer-guitarist Samba Ngo returns for the first time in close to a year, bringing the same qualities that made him such a favorite, as he leads his band through a steamy, hot, and happy African-rock-funk-jazz fusion of soukous dance music. Everyone leaves feeling uplifted. As Ngo says, “The music of the African tradition is therapeutic. My music is part of that. Music is not only to listen to and like, but to enjoy the spirit of.”
Ngo is a master of sebene, the characteristic element of Congolese music that enchants and entrances listeners with driving layers of guitar and call-and-response choruses. Over the irresistible guitars and percussion, Ngo’s voice is filled with hope, love, and peace through music. Raised in a tiny Congo village, Ngo was the son of an herb doctor (nganga) who taught him the rhythm used for healing rituals. Since leaving home to play music at the age of 13, Ngo has taken his father’s teachings to heart and used his music as a healing force. He sings in French, Lingala and Kikongo, and occasionally in English. In addition to electric guitar he plays drums, bottles, and the likembe, Congo’s thumb piano. His recent CD, “The Best of Samba Ngo,” is a thirty-year retrospective of his music, spanning from his Afropop group Mbamina to his many solo CDs. In addition to longtime favorites, tonight’s concert also includes songs recorded for Ngo’s next album, due for release later this year. Now living in Santa Cruz, Ngo has been busy in Paris finishing the CD, when not touring in Africa and Europe. Last summer he even took his music to the Montana Folk Festival in Butte.
“Besides being an inspired songwriter, Samba Ngo delivers his songs in a softly seductive voice that convinces the listener that everything is going to work out,” says Larry Kelp, host of KPFA’s weekly radio show Sing Out. “His music just feels so right, so full of love and compassion.”
When & Where
Ashkenaz is the East Bay's home to world music & dance... established 1973; nonprofit since 1997. We are always all ages! Kids 12 & under are admitted free unless otherwise noted.
All of our online ticket sales are will call. We will have a list of ticket buyers at the door; you do not need to bring a printout of your ticket/order confirmation.
Doors open 30 minutes before showtime, or 30 minutes before the dance lesson if there is one, unless otherwise noted.
Ashkenaz's Café opens when doors open and offers beer (draft and bottled), wine, kombucha, juices, sodas, coffee and tea, and snacks and light meals (all vegetarian, mostly organic).