West coast Congolese sensation Kiazi Malonga has just released new video “Tatamana.” The track features a more obscure drum called the Petengue, the lead drum Kiazi plays in the video, using his heel to change pitch. This is the second single from Kiazi’s forthcoming debut album, Tembo Kia Ngoma, set for release on March 5, 2021. The album pays tribute to Kiazi’s late parents, including world renowned ambassador of central African dance and Kiazi’s father, Malonga Casquelourd.
Kiazi Malonga is a second generation Congolese American. Kiazi was born into a family of artists one of which being his father Malonga Casquelourd. Kiazi’s father was a world renowned artist who taught Congolese dance, drum and folkloric performance art. Casquelourd established the Fua Dia Congo Performance Dance Company, the first African Dance and Drum Camp in the US, and played a major role in building the African Diaspora Community in the Bay Area (East Palo Alto, Oakland and San Francisco) and the United States. With Tembo Kia Ngoma, Kiazi honors his father’s legacy. Kiazi states, “This is my first studio project honoring the work he did, showcasing my culture and recording compositions and songs from his generation that were never captured.”
Tembo Kia Ngoma translates from Kikongo to English to mean “the wind of the drum.” Kiazi, who also grew up in the inner city said, “Tembo (being wind) can also refer to the vibration of the sound waves that hit you often when a car with an amazing stereo system pulls up alongside you.” The Ngoma, a traditional drum from sub-Saharan Africa, is the primary instrument showcased throughout the album.
Tembo Kia Ngoma was recorded over a 2 year period at Redtone Records in East Palo Alto, CA. Kiazi recorded the album with recording engineer Justin Phipps. Kiazi said, “Justin’s musicianship, raw skills playing multiple instruments and approach to engineering play a crucial role in making this project that we are excited about!” The 10-track instrumental album follows the format of how Malonga Casquelourd used to set the order of the annual Fua Dia Congo performances. Each track is distinguishable by its Congolese rhythm.
The first single, “Lomami,” blends together rhythmic elements of Mutwashi & Tchiluba. The song is dedicated to the untimely passing of Kiazi’s late older cousin Diaka Fungula. Named in honor of the region it came from in the Luba Kingdom, “Lomami” is filled with a melodic string section and an intricately-composed Ngoma breakdown. The track “Mbongui” features the voice of Malonga Casquelourd and Fua Dia Congo (40 plus strong) in a performance in the late 90’s. The song is highly-revered and has not been performed since Casquelourd’s passing.
With Tembo Kia Ngoma, Kiazi Malonga aims to elevate the platform with which Congolese traditional music is listened to and appreciated. Kiazi concludes, “It’s a first step in my contribution to sharing the beautiful culture that I am a part of…Congolese Culture.” Kiazi Malonga’s debut album Tembo Kia Ngoma is due out March 5, 2021.
Watch the Tatamana music video: https://youtu.be/TeZzUz2aeUQ