Manu Dibango

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Cameroon saxophonist Manu Dibango, a cosmopolitan musician who has lived in half a dozen countries, and who has played vibraphone and keyboards besides reeds, debuted in Paris with the formative Manu Dibango (1968), followed by the transitional O Boso and Soma Coba (1972).

Dibango became famous in 1973 thanks to the proto-disco groove of Soul Makossa (originally the B-side of a 1972 single), fused African rhythms and melodies with reggae, notably on Gone Clear (1979), and jazz, notably on Electric Africa (1985), with Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrel and Herbie Hancock (and containing the hip-hoppish Abele Dance), and hip-hop, notably on Polysonik (1990), and soul, notably on Lamastabastani (1996).

His classic rhythm is embodied in Soul Makossa (1973) and Makossa Man (1974), while Afrovision (1976) started a mutation towards funk music. Home Made (1978), with musicians from Ghana and Nigeria, Waka Juju (1982), one of his genre-defining works, and Afrijazzy (1986) rank among his most personal works, and redeem shameless collections of African cliches such as Wakafrica (1994) or mediocre attempts at reinventing himself such as Mboa'su (2000) and Kamer Feeling (2001).

Dibango died in 2020 at the age of 86 of covid-19.

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