FROM KOLKATA is her second album
Late October 2017, Tita Nzebi was in Kolkata for her first tour in West Bengal. During this trip she finalized some songs and created other ones. Leaving France for India, she had some ideas on a possible new album. Coming back she knew what this second album would; this is the reason of this title “From Kolkata”.
Tita Nzebi addresses some of the themes that are dear to her.
The family first with Ba Ngu (The Mothers) for a tribute to what she calls plural motherhood.
Among many ethnic group in Africa a child is not only the child of the biological mother but it is also the child of this woman’s sisters, brothers and more relatives.
L’kwèle is a song about weddings. It is celebratory, naturally, talking about the coming together of communities, about “two villages becoming one”, “one family earning a son while another earns a daughter”. She explains how the song is her counterpoint to a narrative she had heard from a musician while working with Sec Bidens, the guitarist considered to be the great man of Congolese music. There, someone was talking about how it was wrong for girls in his hometown to return home after marriage because they did not approve of their husbands’ ways. Tita did not agree and hence wrote her own song. “Not everyone has to get
Respect for people with L’ghôbe where the artist acknowledges the difficulty indeed even the impossibility to love everyone because our heart is not large enough for that. Nevertheless she questions on the necessity to value respecting others even those we do not like.
Advocating the respect for people once more, she denounces the dictatorship in Gabon, her home country. And the silence of the prim and proper persons in Dictature inavouée (Unavoued Dictatorship), La caravane passe (The caravan moves on) and Mindombe (The Keepers).
Her wish to share and exchange has been present all along making this album.
First with her usual musicians: Geroges Dieme - drummer; Ivan Rechard - bass player; Serge Ananou - guitarist. From Kolkata has been completely made and arranged by Tita and them but L’ Kwele born from a collaboration between Sec Bidens and Tita Nzebi.
Then with the Bengali artists met in Kolkata: Titash Sen, Gobin Das Bairagya, Sandip Bag. In Baul song and From Kolkata she merges her incantatory voice with traditional and music and songs of Bengal. From Kolkata that is a mix of a jhumur love song and a Gabonese tune about the birth of twins that is considered a holy occurrence in many villages of Africa. Gobinda Das’s Baul Song snug fits the album, Serge Ananou’s guitar ably replicating the nuances of the khamak while Ivan Rechard’s bass established a parallel solo as if seconding every word of the lyrics.
The rest of the album is a happy mix of reggae, jazz and pop intonations, heightened by Georges Dieme’s subtle swipes and strikes on the drums and congas and occasional bursts of the saxophone. From Kolkata is a delightful offering, leaving you with thoughts of myriad shades and diverse influences. Tita’s retelling of stories is heightened by her astonishingly powerful vocal range that she, interestingly, deploys sparingly. Her singing is soft and bold at the same time, searing and loving, elegantly purposeful. She budgets her flourishes and high-pitch intonations, consciously limiting herself so as not to overshadow the music that is a delectable mix of folk with shades of jazz.
In a world that threatens to be torn asunder by hatred and bigotry, where the sane still seek out, and find, solace in the comforting strains of the higher calling of music, we need more singers to sing their songs.
From Kolkata in one word : a hymn to wisdom.