Muntu Valdo
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Muntu Valdo

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"Muntu Valdo, QEH, London"

For the first hour the crowd were treated to Muntu Valdo's guitar magic.

Sauntering on stage with a springy step, softly picking at his guitar and blowing on his harmonica, he resembled a youthful, latter-day Bob Dylan. But his music is from a different stream. Using a box of tricks to double-track his guitar and voice live, he added layers of sound to create full textured, soft songs about peace, love and cameroonian wirchcraft and charmed the audience! - FINANCIAL TIMES, UK


"REVIEW WOMAD SINGAPOR 2007"

The evening kicked off with Muntu Valdo from Cameroon belting out tunes from his harmonica and guitar that transported the audience into paradise. With a can of beer in hand and the cool breeze caressing their skin, the crowd looked deeply relaxed and chilled out, swaying their bodies to the sexily lazy hybrid of his Western and African music. Who knew that a man with just his guitar and harmonica could sound so riveting? - MTV ASIA


"Lets have Mucho Muntu"

Of all the artists I've seen recently, Muntu Valdo is possibly one of the most intriguing examples of a musician whose core vocabulary - a wide range of rhythms and melodies from his homeland - has been nuanced by an understanding of the jazz aesthetic.

At recent gig at Jamm in Brixton, he played a quite mesmerising solo set in which he used looping pedals as well as guitar and harmonica to create finely-woven tapestries of sound that, with the occasionally marked afro-brazilian resonance of the material, came across as an audacious gathering of the spirits of Milton Nascimento and Clevand Watkiss. There were fabulous details in the work, a flurry of close harmonies in one song that had a beautifully feminine quality; a lengthy harmonica solo that was roughhouse honky tonk blues with a dash of honey; an acoustic guitar improvisation that was all bass, the heavy-assed E string working more in 24 bars than it is in a whole gig for most rock and pop singers.

















- ECHOES (Kevin Le Gendre)


"Album review"

"A rapturous record that shudders with joy, passion and lusty newness" - NME


"Rose Skelton explains..."

Muntu is reassuringly humble, not the kind of person you'd think had made a stunning debut album, recorded in Cameroon, under his own steam and had toured all over the world with his unique brand of Jazz-and-so-many-other-things-all-wrapped-into-one, sound. He comes across, off stage, as someone who's just really happy to play music. On stage, he's utterly captivating , someone who lives through holding an audience in his hand, able to silence Womad's Siam tent with one breath on his harmonica, a single spotlight shining on his solitary figure...Happily, there is a unmistakable Muntu-ness that shine throughout. He doesn't lose a sense of himself as he's exploring the multiple rhythms and styles of his home and his last years around the Globe...And Shine he does. Just watch Youtube and you'll see for your self. - FROOTS


Discography

- Gods & Devils: debut album of 16 tracks (p/c muntu valdo 2005).

- "Leta": featured as first track on the compilation
"Jazz-autoproduits fnac vol 1" (p/c FNAC, 2004).

- "Des dieux & des diables" radio airplay: Radio Neo (2005).
- "Di sibi", "Leta", "Pothi Pathou", "Di Mala", "Nem Wem" , "Da Lassu", all playlisted on several national and international Radio & FM in France, Switzerland, UK, USA, Singapore, Cameroon and Africa between 2005 and 2008 (FIP, RSM, BBC, RFI, Africa N°1, France Cultures...).

Photos

Bio

The artist is he who dares write the story of his life with his own blood.

Muntu Valdo belongs to the Sawa community who populate the length of Cameroon’s coastline along the Golf of Guinea. His father is from the small village of Dibombari, 30km west of Douala, his mother from the Malimba Islands out in the Atlantic Ocean, famous for their oysters. Muntu then, is a Sawa, a child of the coast, a child of the mangroves and of the water, a child whose birth was hailed and blessed by the « Miengu » (mermaids) who are known to protect or destruct people and populations depending on their humour. Eighty kilometres east of Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon and its most densely populated city, is the town of Edea. It’s here, inside his grandmother’s small house perched on the banks of Cameroon’s longest river, The Sanaga, that Muntu was born. As a young boy his nickname was Muutu (from “Muut’esucudu” which translates as “good student”), because of the exceptional ease with which he could memorise and recite stories and legends. With time Muutu will become Muntu.

It was at the age of 8yrs old, sat under a huge mango tree in the ‘Cité Verte’ of Yaoundé that Muntu played his first notes on an old, three-stringed guitar made of plasterboard and fishing wire. These enormous trees, which transform patches of wasteland into shady clearings perfect for football, were Muntu’s favourite hangout and would fuel his two passions: football and guitar. At this stage of the early eighties, television had yet to arrive in Cameroon and cinema and videos were a luxury reserved only for the few. Radio and newspapers were the only medias readily available and for many kids in the working class quarters of Yaoundé, much of their time was spent wandering the streets looking for mischief. It is Muntu’s passion for music and sport that would help keep him out of trouble and prevent him getting up to no good.

With Muntu’s adolescence came the arrival of the television and Internet. During this period his passion for music was cultivated via school concerts and competitions and his enthusiasm for football fired by the success of the “Indomitable Lions” and of Roger Milla, the most famous African footballer of all time! In Douala and Yaoundé, this era also heralded a rapid mushrooming of shantytowns, as more and more people began to leave their villages looking for a more prosperous life in the city. Both cities began to expose an increasingly fractured urbanism, their vast colonial avenues, now riddled with pot holes, rubbing shoulders with alternately dust ridden or mud entrenched (depending on the season) roads, markets and working class quarters. The absence of public transport and traffic lights, the endless traffic jams and clouds of fumes pumped into the air by battered old cars and moto-taxis, a constant honking of horns mixed with the overlapping beats of music booming out from the multiple bars lining the streets, all came together to create a chaotic yet exuberant and eccentric ambiance.

It’s the early nineties and Muntu, the oldest of four brothers is preparing to start university, lucky yet again to escape the fate of the majority of young Cameroonians who can’t afford to continue their studies and inevitably end up unemployed and often in trouble. It’s amidst a climate of huge incertitude, punctuated by political upheavals and shaken by the winds of a democracy imposed by the old colonial powers of the West, that we find Muntu, studying Law at the University of Yaoundé. Across Africa, nations, who had lived under the oppressive regime of dictators and unique party systems, left to do as they pleased for over 30 years, were crying out for democracy. In Yaoundé student marches and demonstrations took over the city, but were quickly and violently repressed by the state. Some died and many were injured, including Muntu, who was severely beaten by the military. Bed ridden for several weeks, Muntu returned to live with his parents in Douala. They forbade him from returning to university, which they believed had nearly cost him his life. After a year spent recovering from his injuries and giving the odd after school lesson to kids here and there, Muntu secretly went back to university in Douala. He threw himself into the study of linguistics and history, notably that of Africa and ancient Egypt.

This period played a key role in Muntu’s musical development. His vast readings enabled him to discover the many spiritual masters who still guide him today, transforming him from the child “Muutu” that he was, into the man “Muntu” that he is today. From Cheik Anta Diop to Kwame Nkrumah, via Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley, Gandi, Jesus Christ, Ari-Krishna, Mahomet, Omram Aïvanov, Mohamed Ali or Thomas Sankara, Muntu started to build the illusive, calm, nonchalant and meditative personality that defines him today. During this period, whilst playing with the Douala University Orchestra, he also met the musician Eko Roosevel