Ray Lema – Medecine (1985)

FrontCover1.jpgRaymond Lema A’nsi Nzinga (born 30 March 1946), known as Ray Lema, is a Congolese (DRC) musician. A pianist, guitarist, and songwriter, he settled in France in 1982.rn in Lufu-Toto, Bas-Congo Province. As a child he wanted to be a priest and in 1957 at the age of 11 entered a seminary of the White Fathers (a Roman Catholic society of apostolic life), where his talent for music was recognized. He began learning the organ and piano, within a European classical canon that included Gregorian chants, Mozart and Chopin; his concert debut was Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. He left the seminary in 1962 and subsequently attended the University of Kinshasa, where he studied chemistry. He became interested in popular music from outside Africa and after learning to play guitar he began his involvement with the Kinshasa music scene. He became a performer in clubs and was a fan of musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.

In the early 1970s Lema went round the country recording as an ethnomusicologist. In 1974 he became music director for two years of the National Ballet of Zaire. Over the years he has played with the bands of Tabu Ley Rochereau, Joseph Kabasele and Franco, and in 1978 his own band, Ya Tupas, won the French Maracas d’Or award.

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In 1979 he was invited by the Rockefeller Foundation to the United States, where he recorded his first album, Koteja (1982). He then moved to Europe, settling in 1982 in France. His album Kinshasa-Washington DC-Paris was released in 1983. His album Medecine was recorded in London with Martin Meissonnier. His first recordings in the early 1980s were for Celluloid Records, and by 1989 he had international success signing with the Island Records subsidiary, Mango.

Lema has become a major figure in world music, performing at numerous music festivals, and has also worked as a film composer. He has also been involved with various international collaborations. He appears as a vocalist (and composer on three tracks) on Stewart Copeland’s 1985 album, The Rhythmatist. Guests on Lema’s 1989 album Nangadeef include Courtney Pine and the Mahotella Queens. In 1992 he spent time in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, writing the opera Un Touareg s’est marié avec une pygmée with Cameroonian Werewere Liking, and also that year worked with German pianist Joachim Kuhn to record Euro African Suites. In 1997, he recorded the album Bulgarian Voices with the choir of the Pirin Folk Ensemble, and composed The Dream of the Gazelle for a Swedish chamber orchestra. In 2000 he worked with Moroccan band Tyour Gnaoua and brought out the CD Saf.

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In 2002, Lema appeared on a track titled “No Agreement” on the Red Hot Organization’s tribute album to Fela Kuti, Red Hot and Riot alongside Res, Tony Allen, Baaba Maal, Positive Black Soul and Archie Shepp.

He was awarded the “Django d’Or” in October 2003 (by wikipedia)

And here´s his second solo-album:

Born in Zaire (now D.R.Congo) in 1946, Ray Lema proved at a young age to be a gifted pianist and guitarist. He worked as an ethnomusicologist, and in the mid-70s was commissioned by the Zairean government to assemble a National Ballet for Zaire. In 1979 Ray received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to travel and perform in USA. There he recorded his first album, Koteja. Two years later he moved to Europe, staying in Belgium and France. In France he formed the band Carma and started a record label, Celluloid with his album Kinshasa-Washington DC-Paris in 1983. Medecine followed in 1985. Since then, he has travelled the world, working with musicians from Ivory Coast, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Morocco and Europe. In 1989, the Mahotella Queens featured on the track ‘Kamulang’ on the Nangadeef album.

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Medecine draws on traditional central African music and translates it into reggae-tinged electronic funk for your Nintendo. He strikes the perfect balance between traditional and electronic, African and western. Every song is a gem, none more so that the 7-minute ‘Bored Whore’. Lema handles vocals, guitar, percussion and keyboards on the album, while the electronics were programmed by Martyn Philips and Martin Meissonnier. Legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen lays down the groove on ‘Marabout’ and ‘Peuple Eyo’.

Progressive South African label Shifty re-released the album in 1990. (afrosynth.com)

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Personnel:
Athey Dialopa (saxophone)
Ray Lema (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion)
Martin Meissonnier (electronics, synthesizer)
amba N’Go (guitar)
Martyn Phillips (electronics, synthesizer)
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Tony Allen (drums on 01. + 04.)
M’Bamina (vocals on 02. + 06.)
Boffi Banengola (drums on 01. + 07.)
Fanfan (guitar on 01.)
Pape Thiam (percussion on 03.)

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Tracklist:
01. Marabout (Iyolela) 6.55
02. Ninga 6.43
03. Nzola 4.37
04. Peuple Eyo 5.54
05. Lusala 3.01
06. Bored Whore 7.09
07. Dansometer Reprise 3.17

All songs written by Ray Lema

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