This is not ‘world music’ this is post-millennial funk, expertly refreshed with a thousand different flavours from around the planet. Zap Mama is global music culture.
Marie Daulne, the charismatic front person and founder of Zap Mama originally hails from the Congo , where her Belgian father was killed when she was still little. Following that tragic event, her family found refuge with Pygmies in the forests there before making their way to Europe where Marie grew up.
At 20, she retraced her steps and learned Pygmy vocal techniques first hand. Upon her return, she formed the band that became a sensation with their first, acapella, album. Since then 12 years have passed and Marie has moved to the US from Belgium and her style has evolved into today’s urban fusion with global tones.
The band comes on after an impressive support slot from Karen Ramirez. The female members of the group enter the stage moving as if they are in ‘Kill Bill’ and last of all, sliding down the banister is Afro-Ninja herself Marie Daulne.
The first three songs: ‘Bollywood’, ‘Whally’ and ‘Sweet’ fly by as Zap Mama stretch their vocal chords and begin to build one of the most remarkably effective rapports I have seen with a London audience. By the time ‘Rafiki’ came on with its Indian vocal elements and full on funk, the Jazz Café was jumping and it would not stop all night.
Virtuoso displays of musicianship from all the singers, musicians and the man behind the decks became the norm with a remarkable dance piece by the DJ on Calypso-flavoured ‘Vivre’ just before Marie dismissed the band from the stage and built an entire song live by sampling herself to create all the elements she needed (a neat trick and one that Argentinean artist Juana Molina has created an art form out of).
Not long after that she had the audience ‘making baby sounds’, jangling keys and jumping up and down — I mean this is London we don’t get that excited that often — she weaved in a reference to Glastonbury, from which she had just returned and span her philosophy of love and good vibes.
Of course she played her hit ‘Bandy Bandy’ in the encore but after five LPs she has no shortage of great material to draw on and she slipped a few more into her return to the stage.
It was simply one of those special gigs. Yaiyo!
Marie Daulne — lead vocal
Monique Harcum — vocal
Tanya D’Haese — vocal
Wim Verbrugghe — dj
Jan Willems — keyboards
Chantal Willie — bass & vocal
Ida Nielsen — bass & vocal
Freddy Massyeto — percussion
Patrick Dorcean — drums
Dizzy Mandjeku — guitar