Manu Dibango succumbs to Coronavirus

Last week we reported that 'Soul Makossa' African jazz icon Manu Dibango had tested positive for COVID-19. Sadly news comes today that the Cameroonian saxophonist, a regular headliner at Ronnie Scott's over the years and an inspiration to such …

Published: 24 Mar 2020. Updated: 2 months.

Last week we reported that 'Soul Makossa' African jazz icon Manu Dibango had tested positive for COVID-19. Sadly news comes today that the Cameroonian saxophonist, a regular headliner at Ronnie Scott's over the years and an inspiration to such players as UK jazz icon Courtney Pine and rising star Alain Oyono, has died. Dibango was 86.

A statement on the saxophonist's official Facebook page confirms the news in French and English: ''It is with deep sadness that we announce the loss of Manu Dibango, our Papy Groove, who passed away on 24th of March 2020, at 86 years old, further to COVID-19.''

The funky 'Soul Makossa' with its lyrics mostly in duala, a Cameroonian dialect, with the irresistible ma-mako, ma-ma-sa, mako-mako ssa chant, was later incorporated into the coda of the Michael Jackson song 'Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' in the 1980s. (Dibango sued both Jackson and Rihanna who on 'Don't Stop the Music' also was deemed to have made use of his song.) 'Soul Makossa' became Dibango's most enduring and popular composition.

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Spectacular title track of Warmer Than Blood in all quietude streams

Whirlwind is going through a purple patch these last few weeks in spite of everything introducing new music week in week out. This intimate title track heralding ''Warmer Than Blood'' is the latest indicator. Most of the weekend I spent poring over …

Published: 23 Mar 2020. Updated: 2 months.

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Whirlwind is going through a purple patch these last few weeks in spite of everything introducing new music week in week out. This intimate title track heralding ''Warmer Than Blood'' is the latest indicator. Most of the weekend I spent poring over what's new on Michael Janisch's label and simply marvelling.

And so to an all-star all-leader trio working in all democracy that revels in its maturity and flexibility last heard live by marlbank in another context the trio in question here, Chris Montague on guitar on this track anyway completely disregarding his Holdsworthian compass ventures into deep song with pianist Kit Downes and Kit's wife brilliant bass guitarist Ruth Goller, were with James Maddren in that feisty protest singer Sarah Gillespie's band in Limerick city on a very memorable night in Dolans Warehouse last autumn. No drummer or singer in sight however on 'Warmer Than Blood.'

I haven't heard Kit Downes play like this before. He is at his most romantic certainly, not in a corny sense, and manages to imbue the yearning flavour of the piece with an extra unfathomable element, the tune somehow magical that in parallel fashion John Taylor, Norma Winstone and Kenny Wheeler created in their Azimuth days.

Montague, I suppose the UK's greatest jazz guitarist since John McLaughlin yet still ridiculously underknown to a wider international audience, and certainly in a pantheon that includes such different players of remarkable genius as Derek Bailey, John Etheridge, Mike Walker, Phil Robson and Shirley Tetteh down the years proves himself more than ever as a composer. Recorded last year in one of the most jazz-friendly studios, Eastcote in Kensal Road, London, look for this album on the other side when we get there, inshallah, in May. SG