African Music Encyclopedia

 

Diblo Dibala

 

Diblo Dibala, born in 1954 in Kisangani in the Congo (now Zaire), of the Baluba people, is the one of the hottest African Soukous lead guitarists around. At the age of 6 Diblo moved to Kinshasa and by the age of 15 he was playing guitar in the great Franco's TPOK band. In Kinshasa, Diblo continued to master his lava-hot guitar chops with such top Zairean bands as Vox Africa, Orchestre Bella Mambo, and Bella Bella.

In 1979 Diblo left Zaire and landed in Brussels where he played a rented guitar and washed dishes to make money. In 1981 he moved to Paris, where the Soukous scene was a happening thing. He rejoined Kanda Bongo Man, who he had played with in Bella Bella. Their first album, Iyole (1981), was a big hit: Kanda became a big star, and Diblo became the most sought-after session man in Paris. Diblo's huge European success with Kanda Bongo Man led to the formation of his own band, Loketo (which means 'hips', as in 'shake your...'), featuring the work of the gifted vocalist Aurlus Mabele. By this time Diblo was the dominant Soukous session man in Paris and he was in great demand. On recordings by such Soukous giants as Kanda Bongo Man and Pepe Kalle you can hear them calling out "Diblo" when guitar solo time comes around.

Diblo's naturally gentle demeanor might have served him well in a recording studio, but he had problems keeping Loketo together with the flamboyant Mabele. In 1990 Diblo left Loketo to form Matchatcha (means "a type of flower that produces an itch") with a few other Loketo members, Freddy de Majunga on rhythm guitar, Miguel Yamba on bass, and dancers Antoinette Yelessa and Joelle Esso. Diblo also added session drummer Komba Bello Mafwala, and vocalists Fede Lawu and Otis Mbute. Continuing to have problems with keeping his bands together, Matchatcha went through another change of personnel in 1992 when de Majunga and Lawu left to be replaced by Frenchman J.P. Kinzaki on rhythm guitar, and two vocalists, Dely Mpeletu and David Mondo. Later on in '92 Yamba left the band to be replaced by his his protege Fellyko, and in '94 he was replaced by Djo Mali. Congo player Serge Bimangou was also added around this time. Though Diblo has certainly gottten better at keeping his band together, Matchatcha is still undergoing personnel changes.

To see Diblo and Matchatcha in concert is to experience a hot hot time. His scoarching guitar leads will leave you breathless and when you're hand is grabbed and you're swept up onstage to dance with the band you'll close your eyes and suddenly be transported to Kinshasa.


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