The final concert of our 2019-20 Global Rhythms season brings together pillars of East African music—forefathers of East Africa rumba Orchestre Les Mangelapa, and local Kenyan guitarist Frank Ulwenya with his ensemble L’Orchestra Afrisound.
Orchestre Les Mangelapa are the bearers of a 40-year legacy as East African musical legends. They’ve helped create and evolve the style of East African rumba—the musical art form that has come to define East Africa—and have kept it alive in Kenya’s busy capital. Now the original members are in their 70s but still performing every week with their sweet, flowing three-part harmonies intact, still playing weekly gigs in local clubs. Last year they went back into the studio and re-recorded many of their most classic tracks, creating their most recent album Last Band Standing—characterized by warm vocals, a rock-solid rhythm section, and intertwining guitars and horns that come together to produce a glorious and uplifting sound.
Les Mangelapa are joined onstage by Frank Ulwenya and L’Orchestra Afrisound. Frank was born into the Luya ethnic group in the Maragoli area of Western Kenya, an area known for producing many of Kenya’s top musicians. Frank started to play guitar at age 10. Frank moved to Seattle in 1985, and just two years later he founded L’Orchestra Afrisound with other African and American musicians. Frank and Afrisound have become an important fixture in the local Seattle scene, especially for the East African community, for whom Frank is considered the musical standard-bearer. A key member of the Pacific Northwest Kenyan association and other African organizations, Frank and Afrisound are a mainstay at regional African community events and clubs across Seattle.
Sit in for a collaboration by two groups who uphold and define traditions of East African rhythm.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.