Verkys et l'Orchestre Veve
Congolese Funk, Afrobeat and Psychedelic Rumba
Verkys, aka George Mateta Kiamuangana, is a name that sits proudly alongside such Congolese luminaries as Franco and Tabu Lay Rochereau. And there were important connections between them in the ever-changing and always competitive Kinshasa music scene. For, as a youngster, Verkys had cut his teeth as a saxophonist, with Franco's bank, OK Jazz, and--subsequently conquering the technologies of the recording studio--had recorded and produced Rochereau in the studio he set up in the Congolese capital.
But the relationship between Franco and Verkys was always fractious, perhaps because both musicians were ambitious to a fault. Verkys was the son of a successful and fairly prosperous businessman, while Franco's upbringing was much more humble and, consequently, Franco himself, offstage at least, was almost self-effacing in manner. The two men fell out in 1967 when Franco instigated legal proceedings against Verkys for failing to show up for a studio recording session. Verkys said that the reason that he did not attend was that Franco had accused him of the theft of musical equipment in Brazzaville, a charge he rigorously denied.
Even if this was resolved without a court appearance, the mutual distrust persisted. This came to a head about a year later, in 1968 when Verkys and Gilbert Youlou released six records on a new label that they co-owned called Veve. It seems that Verkys had managed to lure a number of musicians from OK Jazz to take part in the recordings (although they were under exclusive contract to OK Jazz). Franco was furious and fired Verkys, but later relented on condition that he took 40% of the profits of the Veve recordings.
However, that arrangement did not last long and Verkys quit Franco's OK Jazz in 1969 to set up Orchestre Veve at the beginning of 1969. Verkys managed to sign up a number of legendary musicians to his new band including the lead guitarist from Vox Africa, Danyla; Maproco Munange; and a trio of singers: Matadidi Mabele, Marcel Loco and Bonghat Tshekabu. They were also joined by the singer from Dr Nico's band, Bovic Bondo.
It is said that in the first year of the band's formation, they recorded no less than 35 records. Here are...