Not just a saxophonist: Manu Dibango is an institution! The global fusion he created in the 1970s made the "Soul Makossa" star a genuine world-music pioneer.
The very concept of world music owes much to him. Manu Dibango, the greatest of African saxophonists, is above all one of the founding fathers of a modern African musical style that is open to jazz, R&B, salsa, gospel, funk and reggae.
ëSoul Makossaí is widely acknowledged as one of the first true disco hits. But Dibango was not aiming to create a disco song: ìSoul Makossaî was an inspired blend of American soul/funk and the Afropop dance genre called makossa. With a simple, insistent beat, a looping sax riff and harmonised vocals, it became a favourite of downtown New York dancers in the í70s and made Dibango the first African musician to score a Top 40 hit in the United States. The list of artists who have sampled or just plain copied its ëmamako, mamasa, makomakossaí refrain is long and illustrious :Michael Jackson, Will Smith, Kanye West, Rihanna and Eminem.
With an exciting career which now lasts over half a century, more than seventy albums to his credit, countless concerts, Manu Dibango is undoubtedly one of the most popular international star of African music.
His message is universal and touches those who dream of a fairer world.
Earlier this year, Manu released his latest album Merci Thank You! an anthology of his work in a 5-CD set , radiant and full of good vibrations. And here he is, this towering giant of West African music ñ a man who has pushed the boundaries of disco, funk and Afrobeat, all while retaining a fundamental grasp on the jazz he loves so much ñ still going strong and celebrating his 82nd, birthday in inimitable style.
At 82 years old, Dibango is going to be the coolest, funkiest in town.