Roger “Kemp” Biwandu – RFI Music

Roger Kemp Biwandu, 2023.

© Herve Lefebvre

Selflessly, for more than 30 years, drummer Roger “Kemp” Biwandu has brought together his metronomic expertise with personalities from very diverse musical backgrounds. At 50, he could be proud to have magnified on stage or in the studio the works of Salif Keita, Joe Zawinul, Jacques Higelin, Keziah Jones, Marcus Miller or Dee Dee Bridgewater, among others… However, he has not left his work to his own destiny . his 4th album, Straight Out Palmersuperbly illustrates his artistic journey rooted in the soul of African jazz.

Like many musicians of his generation, his revelations came at the turn of the ’80s. Little Roger was more passionate about the electric fusion of jazz-rock groups than his ancestral Congo rumba. He lives in France where a mix of genres has become a matrix of the musical landscape. He shuddered to hear Sting, Miles Davis, Michael Jackson, Wynton Marsalis, in particular. The repertoire of Franco Luambo and Ok Jazz seems very far from him. However… Secretly, his Congo roots seeped into him. He doesn’t know it yet, but the land of Africa will guide his steps. He would become one of the heartbeats of the multicultural swing praised by the elders.

He grew up in the Bordeaux region and thrived in sports (rugby) and music (jazz). Both of these activities forced her to be precise and concentrated, but also developed her free-spirited and sociable spirit. Roger “Kemp” (a diminutive borrowed from basketball player Shawn Kemp) Biwandu became a serious competitor and renowned instrumentalist. Invitations were not lacking and his first appearance alongside jazz greats caused a sensation. Austrian pianist Joe Zawinul, founder of the Weather Report group and African at heart, annoys him, but encourages him. Martinique pianist Mario Canonge advised him. American bassist Marcus Miller inspired him.

A jazz with many roots

Over the years, an irresistible desire to lead his career manifested through the first album, influence, which opens with the famous Haka of the All Blacks, the famous New Zealand rugby player. At that time we were in 2007 and Roger Biwandu immediately wanted to include his music in his daily life. He is a passionate sportsman, a seasoned jazz player, a concerned citizen of the plight of the planet, and a listener to the world’s music. Therefore the composition must reflect his aspirations.

Gradually, the subject will be refined… Each of his productions will find its raison d’être. Through rhythmic figures or small melodies, his position becomes readable. revitalization Black or white, immortalized in the past by Michael Jackson, is not insignificant. Despite his admiration for “King of Pop”, this adaptation, which was recorded in 2017, testifies to his undeniable social views. Roger Biwandu cannot escape the turmoil of the times and his distillates, in his various creations, concerns and enthusiasm. By participating in the show depend by Fabrice Devienne in 2018, he showed a growing interest in the history of his ancestors. Although he did not experience the African independence of the 1960s, the image of the ultimate fighter, Patrice Lumumba, questioned him about the Congo heritage he had to tame.

On 25 December 2022, Roger “Kemp” Biwandu celebrates his half century. Age of maturity, they say. We have to believe that this adage fits perfectly with the intent of his latest album. Straight Out Palmer reveals the truth about a man seeking balance who is sometimes mocked by his dual culture. Claiming possession of French territory and African land was a bold challenge.

Communicative energy

Roger Biwandu played this, on this new disc, evoking in his own way the “Zaire” and Kinshasa stadium he named “Tata Raphaël” where the famous boxing fight between George Foreman and Mohamed Ali took place in 1974. He also left his mark on Rocher de Palmer, a space for artistic expression in Cenon, France, who saw it thrive. Roger Biwandu has definitely taken the weight of an heirloom into account. He advanced at his own pace and marked his time. His drumming, sometimes eloquent, undoubtedly conveys an energy of protest.

Born in Bordeaux, he must immerse himself in a tortured story in the Congo that he does not know in order to reclaim some of his African identity. Always positive, he believes in youth to face the future and overcome yesterday’s hatred. Roger Biwandu is a father, a committed artist, an accomplished sportsman, who knows how to embrace the multiple sources of his being to assert himself and excel.

On January 28, 2023, he will be back playing at Cenon, where it all started. His musical generosity and humor are sure to applaud from his many admirers.

Roger “Kemp” Biwandu Straight Out Palmer (Jazz Family) 2022
Facebook / Twitter /Youtube

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *