Roger “Kemp” Biwandu – RFI Music

Roger Kemp Biwandu, 2023.

© Hervé Lefebvre

Boasting more than 30 years of experience, drummer Roger “Kemp” Biwandu has been showcasing his metronomic virtuosity with personalities from a wide variety of musical backgrounds. At the age of 50, he can be proud of growing the works of Salif Keita, Joe Zawinul, Jacques Higel, Keziah Jones, Marcus Miller or Dee Dee Bridgewater and others on stage or in the studio… However, he does not give up on his creativity. own destiny. His 4th album, Straight out of Palmerbeautifully portrays his artistic journey rooted in the spirit of African jazz.

Like many musicians of his generation, this discovery happened in the early 80s. Little Roger was more interested in the electric fusion of jazz-rock bands than the Congolese rumba of his ancestors. He lives in France, where a mix of genres has become the matrix of the musical landscape. It vibrates especially when listening to Sting, Miles Davis, Michael Jackson, Wynton Marsalis. The repertoire of Franco Luambo and Ok Jazz seems far from him. And yet… Insidiously, his Congolese roots permeate his being. He doesn’t know it yet, but the African soil will guide his steps. He will become one of the beating hearts of the multicultural swing praised by his elders.

He grew up in the Bordeaux region, excelling in sports (rugby) and music (jazz). These two activities impose rigor and concentration on him, while developing his spirit of freedom and companionship. Roger “Kemp” (nicknamed basketball player Sean Kemp) Biwandu became a serious competitor and noted instrumentalist. There is no shortage of requests, and his first performances with the big names of jazz cause a sensation. Joe Zavinul, the founder of Weather Report and an African-at-heart Austrian pianist, worries but inspires him. Mario Canonge, a pianist from Martinique, advises him. American bassist Marcus Miller inspires him.

Very rootsy jazz

Over the years, the irresistible desire to lead his own career is realized through his first album. affect, opens with the famous Haka of New Zealand’s famous rugby players. It’s 2007 and Roger Biwandu immediately wants to incorporate his music into his everyday life. He is an ardent athlete, an experienced jazzman, a citizen attentive to the plight of the planet and a listener of world music. Therefore, his compositions should reflect his desires.

Gradually, his theme will improve… Each of his works will find its reason. Through small rhythmic or melodic allusions, his positions become legible. revive Black or white, immortalized in the past by Michael Jackson, is not insignificant. Filmed in 2017, this adaptation not only admires the “King of Pop”, but also shows his undeniable social outlook. Roger Bivandu, in his various creations, cannot escape his concerns and passions, the upheavals and distillations of his time. By participating in the show dependent By Fabrice Devienne in 2018, he shows a growing interest in the history of his ancestors. Although he did not experience the African independence of the 1960s, the character of Patrice Lumumba, the last fighter, questions his Congolese heritage, which he must tame.

On December 25, 2022, Roger “Kemp” Biwandu celebrated his half-century. They call puberty. We have to believe that this parable fits the intent of his latest album perfectly. Straight out of Palmer expresses the sometimes heckled truth of the dual culture of man in search of balance. It is a bold challenge to claim belonging to the region of France and the soil of Africa.

Communicative energy

Roger Bivandu plays on this disc, a new disc that uniquely evokes “Zaire” and the Kinshasa stadium he named “Tata Raphael”. The famous boxing match between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali took place here in 1974. Tag on Rocher de Palmer, a place of artistic expression in Genon, France. Roger Biwandu certainly weighed the weight of the legacy. It moves at its own pace and records its time. His sometimes boisterous drumming certainly betrays the energy of the protest.

Born in Bordeaux, he had to immerse himself in the painful story of the unknown Congo in order to reclaim a part of his African identity. Always positive, he believes in youth to look to the future and overcome yesterday’s resentments. Roger Biwandu is a father, a committed artist, a skilled athlete who knows how to embrace the multiple sources of his existence to assert himself and excel.

On January 28, 2023, he will return to play in Jenon, where it all began. His musical generosity and humor are sure to be applauded by his many fans.

Roger “Kemp” Biwandu Straight out of Palmer (Jazz Family) 2022
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