Diblo Diabla & Matchatcha | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Diblo Diabla & Matchatcha 

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Few musicians are as synonymous with their genre as guitarist Diblo Dibala is with soukous, the rippling, heavily melodic Congolese rumba. The late bandleader Franco, one of Dibala's early bosses, codified the direction of Congolese guitar playing in the mid-50s: pealing, billowing leads that sound simultaneously forceful and relaxed, highly rhythmic but with every note taking the tune somewhere new. Back then soukous was usually marked by two-part song structures: vocal-heavy verses followed by a quicker, guitar-led climax. That changed with Dibala, who reshaped the music a quarter century after Franco's emergence by supercharging it, frequently abandoning the slower intro portions and concentrating on the climactic vamps--so much so that his music was soon tagged "speed soukous." (If you want to make an extremely rough American analogy, think Chuck Berry followed by Eddie Van Halen.) Following his stint with Franco's TPOK Jazz, Dibala began playing with Kanda Bongo Man, whom he met when both men were living in Paris, a major African-music center. They played together in the 80s before Dibala formed his own band, Loketo, and released two great albums, 1990's Soukous Trouble and 1991's Extra Ball (both Shanachie)--three if you count 1989's Super Soukous, credited to Dibala but sung by Loketo front man Aurlus Mabele. Immediately after Loketo's breakup, Dibala founded Matchatcha, which is still going. Fans of the earlier work will not be surprised by the more recent stuff; Dibala may have altered soukous permanently, but he's no longer a revolutionary--just a great guitar player with a crack band and a catalog from which he can spin out variations for days. Paul Cebar & the Milwaukeeans open. $15. Saturday, July 10, 10 PM, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212.

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