Consumer Guide by Robert Christgau Eating Again June 2nd, 2003 2:30 NDALA KASHEBA Yellow Card (Limitless Sky)

Congo-born in Tanzania, he's what guitar paradise is made of even though that heavenly collection passed him by. Definitive is the 12-string acoustic he cradles in both photos. Sustaining is gentle singer Baziano Bweti, who died in 2002 preaching AIDS education. Of good cheer are King Malou's perky alto themes on "Massamba" and the super-collectible "Kokolay." Also nice are the clicks, the claps, the coro. You believe in staying positive? East African soukous is still writing the book. A MINUS

Congo Congolese rumba, one of Africa's most immediately beguiling and longest-lived styles, repatriates Afro-Cuban rumba back to Africa, smoothing out the vocals and layering on the guitar lines. Sam Mangwana, who has been performing for 40 years, goes international on "Cantos de Esperança" (Sono/Next Music), a largely acoustic album that juxtaposes modern soukous with more old-fashioned Cuban music and songs that draw on the Afro-Portuguese Angolan semba. Ndala Kasheba, a Congolese guitarist who settled in Tanzania, is nowhere near as slick as Mr. Mangwana. But the band he leads on "Yellow Card" (Limitless Sky/Stern's) is bursting with life. His 12-string guitar and an infusion of East African rhythms give Mr. Kasheba's soukous a special heft that doesn't make it any less luminous.

The music of 'Yellow Card' is a collection of Ndala Kasheba's classic songs from throughout his music career. The title track is a reference to the AIDS epidemic. In the '80s, Kasheba had a lull in his musical career, and people began to say, "Oh, he's finished. The man is finished." He was actually pronounced dead by the media of Tanzania, twice. They said he died of AIDS, and really, all he had done was take a trip back to the Congo to see his family. He came back, and he's sitting at a bar and hears on the radio that he's dead. This really affected him, because if he's hearing that, his family, his children, his best friends --everybody is hearing this. So he wrote this song saying, "God has issued the world a yellow card (a warning in a soccer match). AIDS is a warning to the world. We must take our lives seriously now."

Ndala Kasheba Yellow Card Limitless Sky Records, 2002 Ndala Kasheba, Yellow Card Yellow Card, is the first album released by Tanzanian guitarist/songwriter, Ndala Kasheba, in the United States. Released by Limitless Sky Records in 2002, Yellow Card is a great introduction to East African popular music. A veteran of the East African music scene, Ndala Kasheba has been an important force in Tanzania since the 1970's when he first immigrated to Dar Es Salaam from the Congo. He is known for his flashiness, very much a Congolese trait. For example, he dons a Mexican sombrero hat both on stage and off. The East African rumba is smooth and best known for the soaring paired guitars that ride on top of virtually every song. Yellow Card works in this style, the perfect album for upbeat dancing and having fun. One aspect of this music which immediately strikes you is the sense of happiness and joy conveyed through the lyrical guitar and bouncy bass lines. Like most popular music, Kasheba takes his music from the language of his people. Since the days of revered socialist president, Julius Nyerere, the common language spoken throughout Tanzania is Kiswahili. As this reviewer can attest from personal experience, Kiswahili is a beautifully lyrical language, which is bright and sunny, very much a reflection of the climate of East Africa. In addition to Kiswahili, Kasheba speaks numerous other African languages, English and French. His repertoire includes many diverse influences, spanning through both African and Western genres. [This is most clearly reflected in his songs like "Kadi Ya Njano" (which means Yellow Card) and in "Kokolay," the first track of the album.] Ndala is accompanied by his big band consisting of lead, electric and rhythm guitars, alto and tenor saxes, ranging from two to four vocalists, drum set and conga's. "Kokolay" is a driving introduction to the album. It starts with an acoustic guitar strumming chords which are reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix or Bob Dylan, then segways into a joyful bass line accompanied by the tenor and alto horns. Kasheba's lead vocals are backed by the rich vocal triads who respond in the common African call and response dialogue. The second track, "Marinella" is similar in style to "Kokolay," with the intertwined three part harmonies backing two lead singers singing the same falsetto line. "Kadi ya Njano" (or Yellow Card) is the third track which involves a bit of controversy. In his long lived career, Ndala has become a celebrity of sorts in Tanzania. He is the sponsor of several daily household items like laundry detergent. Part of the success that he has achieved has led him to be the subject of occaisional slanderous and false rumors which have spread through the Tanzanian press. One particularly fraudulent rumor mentioned that Ndala had died, many of his friends thought it was true, and he had to work hard to convince everybody that he, in fact, was still alive. "Yellow Card" refers to the warning card a soccer player gets in a match when he has committed a foul. Here Ndala is warning the press and anyone who might want to slander him again. All of the tracks on this album are well crafted and lively. With the exception of "Yellow Card", they all are upbeat and joyful in the dancing style. The groove moves quickly,a trademark of the 4/4 rhythmic cycle, and you get the sense that you are walking along with a bounce in your step. Check out tracks "Mpaka Manga" and "Sung'ula Weba," for their flowing vocal passages. "Massamba" and "Umbeya" are great for their bass lines and horn sections. If you want to get a flavor for Ndala's masterful guitar playing, check out "Dezo Dezo," and "Nimlilie Nani?" Both of these songs feature the high register guitar solo so familiar to East Africa. When visiting one of the countries of East Africa, you will hear music like Ndala Kasheba's in nightclubs, bars, but also on a daily basis walking through the marketplace and business districts. Store owners will often place stereo speakers outside their stores playing music from Eastern and Southern Africa to attract customers. This is one feature of marketplaces which add to the excitement and delirium already so present amidst the endless transactions taking place. Whatever state you may find yourself in the marketplace, the sounds of the lead guitar soaring through the high register make a unique and lasting impression. In its wide range of distribution throughout region, Ndala's music is an ideal way to become familiar with a very popular East African sensibility. Contributed by: Andrew Harms for www.afropop.org

Ndala Kasheba Yellow Card Limitless Sky Yellow Card is the perfect panacea for all that ails ya. Congolese guitar "Maestro," Ndala Kasheba serves up a perfectly delicious serving of soukous that will leave a gulf-wide grin on your face. The swirling guitar melodies leave you mesmerized; the creeping bass lines claw into your hip bones and will not let go until everyone is dancing; and the vocals feel like pure joy (only because I don't understand the lyrics). Soukous is one of those rare forms of music that will always leave you smiling. It showers even the darkest room with an infectious joy that, like Mobutu, is damned near impossible to resist. Kasheba is the perfect example to the pure bliss this music spreads. His music is captivating and so full of verve and spirit, one can easily get lost within his beautiful sound. This disc lifts the spirit and leaves it floating in the enriching ether of optimism and promise. Limitless Sky Records: http://www.limitlesssky.net Bill Campbell INK 19 – March 19

REVIEWS NDALA KASHEBA Yellow Card Limitless Sky Famous in Tanzania for his voice and 12-string guitar, expatriate Congolese musician Kasheba, brings a touch of the rumba to East Africa, letting the sounds mix and create and very spicy stew. Backed by a full band, with several singers, and horns on some tracks, the sound is full, and quite joyous. A very adept guitarist, Kasheba might be one of the very few African 12-string players, his Congolese leads (often on 6-string) fluent over the East African rhythms, making for a marvelous pan-African collaboration that works well.