Orchestre Massako: Vinyl LP
Orchestre Massako

Orchestre Massako: Vinyl LP

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Label: Analog Africa
Release Date: 3rd June

One of the most addictive records we've heard from elite reissue Analog Africa. Its joy and life encapsulated in the studio, its music made during difficult times but with a purpose to bring good to folk's lives with a gentle groove that creeps and has unwittingly got you moving. 

For those who dig: any Analog Africa reissue and compilation plus a love for the diverse music of Africa during the 70s.

Libreville was upside down following the re-election of president Ali Bongo in
August 2016. By the time I was ready to go ahead with this project, Mack-Joss’s
phone number had been disconnected, and shortly afterwards I found out
that the baobab of Gabonese music had fallen.

An adept of folk rhythms, Mack-Joss’s career as a musician began when he was
just 17 of age and he quickly established himself as a staple of Libreville’s nightlife
scene, singing in various local bands. By 1966 he had released “Le Boucher”, his
first hit which swept the African airwaves and earned him the respect of Franco,
the legendary master of Congolese Rumba. Franco´s encouragement helped
transform him from a Gabonese singer into an ascendent figure of pan-African culture.

Between 1968 and 1970 Mack-Joss and his Negro-Tropical immortalised a good
number of singles recorded in a makeshift open-air recording studios and in 1971
Gabon armed forces decided to form their own band. Mack-Joss was recruited to
become the band leader and this was the birth of Orchestre Massako which became
Gabon’s national orchestra.

At the end of the 1970´s funds were made available to bring recording equipment
over from France. Studio Mobile Massako was born and Mack-Joss’s songwriting
ability provided hit after hit. The master tapes with the recordings were sent to
Paris for mixing and Mack-Joss would personally make the journey to France, carrying
the reels in his hand luggage. The vinyl records were then pressed in France and
shipped back to Gabon, and to other distributors throughout the continent. About
a dozen long play records were recorded between 1978 and 1986 and most were
released on Mass Pro, Mack-Joss´s own label. A few of these recordings featured a
singer from Guinée Conakry by the name of Amara Touré who had joined Orchestre
Massako as a singer in 1980 and had become an important ingredient in the
band’s success. His specific voice, impossible not to recognise, left no one
unmoved (ask those who listened to the compilation AALP078).

Mack-Joss’s retirement in 1996 marked the end of Orchestre Massako. With a four
decades spanned career, his contribution to Gabonese culture cannot be overstated
and continues to inspire the respect and devotion of people who knew him.

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