Kongo Dia Ntotila’s sound is a blend of Africa’s finest dance music styles, revived, modernised, and seamlessly fused with a neat dose of jazz – an accidental fusion – Just don’t describe them as Afrobeat! This Kongo-Jazz ensemble consists of Mulele Matondo (bass), John Kelly (guitar), Mbouta Kissangwa (drums), Diala Sakuba (guitar) and UK jazz horn players William Scott (saxophone) and Mike Soper (trumpet). The addition of a new brass section is what brings the groups musicality into a more hybrid sound, mixing the Central African dance vibes of their first album with a new exploration of Jazz, Blues, Reggae, Latin groove, and improvisation.
When Mulele Matondo became a music student at Leeds College, his jazz guitar tutor turned out to be future bandmate John Kelly. Lessons became musical exchanges as Mulele shared the intricate patterns of Sebene (Soukous) guitar. They started working on songs together, with a Congolese singer in Bradford, where they were based. That was the first iteration of the band about 10 years ago, and led to their first album release, 'Seben Steps to Heaven' in 2012, featuring Central African dance floor riffs combined with lively Congolese vocals.
Kongo Dia Ntotila’s new album 360° sees the band move collectively through the sounds and styles of Africa exploring notes of joy, celebration, pain, and protest. Although Kongo Dia Ntotila has brought Jazz and Blues influences into their music, the heart of their sound is rooted firmly in the motherland. This album delivers euphoric Afro-joy, polyrhythmic guitars, dancing bass, powerful brass, and beautiful harmonic vocals.
BBC 6 Music’s Tom Robinson describes Kongo Dia Ntotila as “a great combination of sophistication, energy, musicianship and pure life-affirming spiritual uplift!"