Mvula Mandondo – ‘When rain falls, the beans grow’.
Founded by internationally respected percussionist, Saidi Kanda, who first made his name with Remmy Ongala’s Orchestra Super Matimila, Mvula Mandondo presents an original concoction of Tanzanian village roots, urban rumba and Afro-Caribbean influences, blending traditional and modern instruments. Saidi Kanda’s vocal virtuosity accompanied by commanding guitar-driven rhythms will make you move. Alternatively, you may just want to sit back, relax and let strings, thumb piano and harmonies, beats and guitar rhythms wash over you like tropical rain. Thats if you can sit still. Spanning a versatile range of musical styles this new music holds a few surprises with new sounds and blends you have never heard before.
The forthcoming release will be the first album exclusively featuring Saidi’s own compositions, showcasing his true talents, not only as a percussionist, but also as vocalist, composer, and traditional multi-instrumentalist with a highly unique and inimitable style and feel. This is Kanda as singer-songwriter backed by his own band, Mvula Mandondo. World Music is redefined.
The album is the result of collaboration with Edward Shearer who brings his talents to the table as multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer. He injects his own vision into the music, which always seems to fall in line with Saidi’s, bringing Caribbean, Latin, African and European influences. Edward also regards Saidi as his mentor in this unique African folk guitar style.
They draw upon influences from all over Africa and beyond its borders to Europe and the New World. The hypnotic melodies of the thumb piano, the infectious rhythms of the African guitar (zeze), the grooving bass lines and sweet harmonies of the acoustic and tinny guitars will leave you wanting more.
How we began.
Three months later they performed live for the first time on stage at the Pavilion Theatre as part of the Brighton Festival followed by a performance at the Brighton Fringe on the BBC Southern Counties sound stage and again live in the studio. Later in the year they did a live jam on Radio 104A as well as a performance as part of the World Sacred Music Festival held at the Unitarian Church, Brighton. In 2008 they played at the 88 Festival in Lewes. In 2009 they returned to the Unitarian Church as part of the Brighton Live Festival in October and then in 2010 they got Portsmouth moving at Live at the Bandstand.
Now they have come together again to form Mvula Mandondo – bringing the instrumentation to another level and to record their first album.
Saidi comes from a Tanzanian family with a traditional musical heritage. While growing up in Tanzania, Saidi learnt to play many traditional instruments of the Ndengeleko and Manyema people. He learnt these from his grandmother who played the mbira, his mother who was a singer, and traditional drummers. From the family Mwavita. At school he led the drumming group during celebrations and also learnt more at a Catholic mission from a Cuban conguero and he became well-known for his skills. In his teens, Saidi played in several different bands, including Orchestra Kizibo and Biashara Jazz Band in Dar es Salaam and then joined one of Tanzania’s most famous bands, Remmy Ongala’s Super Matimila in 1981. After some years this gave Saidi the opportunity for international travel as the band toured USA and Europe with WOMAD. His great talents were recognised as he was awarded WOMAD Percussionist of the Year in 1989. Saidi has been based in Britain since 1990, residing first in London and then Brighton. He is a founder member of Orchestra Baboma who have toured Britain extensively. Saidi was a part of Mose Fan Fan’s Somo Somo when they toured Britain in 1997 and, in 2001, toured with Santana Mongoley’s Viva Congolia (see photo). Also Saidi has been closely involved with Dade Krama’s West African Folklore Project. In addition, Saidi leads percussion and traditional music workshops and performs solo. For example he has appeared on Children’s ITV and Sky TV, demonstrating the traditional music of Tanzania. As far as recordings are concerned, of course he features as a drummer and composer on many of the CDs by the bands he has played in, such as Dade Krama’s inspiring Ancestral Dance and Alan Skidmore’s Ubizo, Koffi Olomide and Papa Wemba. Very recently his services were heavily called upon for the recording of Grace Jone’s new album in London. Mvula Mandondo’s ‘Ambush’ is the first LP release featuring entirely his own compositions.