Music of the Shi People

COMPOSERS: Music of the Shi People
LABELS: JVC World Sounds
WORKS: World
PERFORMER: Rhulinobo Elige, Joker Shamavu, Munyeno Vesoo (vocal, likembe) Bolungwe Munyeno (maracas)


No shortage of detail with the songs of the Shi people from Zaire (as was – the recording dates from 1983). Tsutomo Oohashi, supervisor of the whole JVC series, made the recording himself and writes at length on the chance that it might embody a source of the American Blues.

You can hear what he means from the constant falling phrases and the confessional manner, though the singing style is subtle and the rhythms more multi-layered. It’s hard to know which way the influence has worked. One of the songs compares two lovers to a lighter and a cigarette, so the New World has certainly fed in somewhere along the line.


The real pride of this disc is the voices, three men with quite different tone and attack, ranging from the soft and insinuating to an assertive clarion, accompanied by the quietly insistent ring of various thumb pianos.