Roberts was more than a musicologist; he also was an educator dedicated to sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm, and his great love of the music. How natural, then, for him to include a survey of early Congolese music as one of his Original Music releases.
As the liner notes (included in the download) explain, the album's tracks are presented chronologically in order to hear the evolution of rumba. It begins with a Hugh Tracey field recording, and quickly moves to selections from the most influential innovators, African Jazz, O.K. Jazz and African Fiesta. There are many outstanding tracks included, though standouts for me are the sublime "Madina" from Rochereau & Orch. African Fiesta and Franco's "Bomboka Awuti na New York." Although then there is Beguen Band's sultry "Christina," and. . .
I corresponded with John Storm Roberts quite a bit in the 90s, particularly in 1998 when Original Music was failing and about to cease its pioneering business. He was so passionate about the music and getting it out to as many people as possible, that I am confident he would endorse spreading the love here. This is the first CD I have posted, and I have to note that there are a few points in a couple of songs where Original Music's digital remastering is not perfect. Still, this is a great album, well worth listening to through a couple decades of wonderful music.