Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca
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Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca

Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1990 | MAJOR

Los Angeles, California, United States | MAJOR
Established on Jan, 1990
Band World Latin




"A Big, Wide World of Music"


Ricardo Lemvo, a singer from Congo, has been pursuing a new generation of connections between Caribbean and Congolese music. (The guitar rumbas of soukous, which spread across Africa, were an earlier Cuban-Congolese fusion.) While Mr. Lemvo sings in a honeyed Congolese croon, the styles on “Isabela” bounce back and forth across the Atlantic in separate songs: Cuban charanga, Angolan kizomba, boogaloo, Congolese soukous. Mr. Lemvo wrote most of the songs — though not the bolero in Turkish — and his fusions are supple, never forced.

- The New York Times

"Ricardo Lemvo: L'accommodeur de rumba et de «son» poursuit sa tournée hexagonale."

WORLD. L'accommodeur de rumba et de «son» poursuit sa tournée hexagonale. Lemvo secoue son monde. Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca. Ce soir à Paris (la Java), demain à Marseille (Docks des Suds), - Liberation-- France

"Cantar as fusões"

A história nunca contada do virtuoso que empurrou Angola para as pistas de dança com Ay Valeria, Habari Yako e outros sucessos.
- O Pais- O Jornal da Nova Angola

"The Beat Goes On"

The beat goes on

No matter the language, Ricardo Lemvo's Afro-Cuban rhythms transcend boundaries

By Marcia Manna
July 17, 2008

At large outdoor music festivals, Ricardo Lemvo rarely explains the story behind his Congolese songs, a repertoire of music driven by infectious Afro-Cuban rhythms.

He sings in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Lingala and Kikongo, the latter two languages of the Republic of the Congo, where Lemvo was born. Sometimes, the vocalist mixes things up by singing a verse in Lingala and the chorus in Spanish. Few know what he's saying, and those familiar with his music just want to dance.

“If we play in a big hall with a sit-down captive audience, I'll introduce the piece and explain it,” said Lemvo, who performs tomorrow in Poinsettia Park as part of the TGIF Jazz in the Parks Concert Series.

“But when we play at a big festival, and people are just there to have fun, I don't want to bore them will all that talk. I give them a good beat and they respond.”

Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca
When: 6 p.m. tomorrow

Where: Poinsettia Park, 6600 Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad

Tickets: Free

Phone: (760) 434-2904

Online: carlsbadca.gov/arts

Lemvo moved to Los Angeles with his family in 1972 and became an American citizen in 1985. He earned a B.A. degree in political science from California State University Los Angeles and planned on studying law before committing to a career in music. Backed by a multiethnic nine-piece band, Lemvo blends genres to form his distinctive sound.

“Congolese musicians in particular, going back to the 1930s, were incorporating elements of Cuban music into their indigenous African music, thereby creating what is now known as 'conga rumba,' ” said Lemvo, who rolls his R's and speaks with a mesmerizing melodic accent. “When you listen to conga rumba, you may think you are listening to son, you see.

“The only difference is the Congolese were singing in Lingala instead of Spanish and they used electric guitars rather than piano. What I do is slightly different than the pioneers of Congolese music. I use piano, electric guitar, trap drums and congas – all the elements of both Congolese and Cuban music.”

It's a mix that produces the sort of steamy, sweat-producing rhythms that inspire dancers to swivel their hips spontaneously.

One such number, “Mambo Yo Yo,” a Cuban-style son montuno released on Putumayo a decade ago, put Lemvo on the map with its move-your-feet beat and call-and-response lyrics. He has toured aggressively since then, performing at many prestigious music festivals and releasing a total of five critically acclaimed albums.

But one should try to become familiar with the linguistically lovely lyrics of this music, as they often tell an intriguing folk tale.

There is the ballad “São Salvador,” sung in Kikongo and Portuguese. It's a tribute to Dona Beatriz Kimpa Vita, a young Kongolese woman who was burned at the stake in 1706 for her religious beliefs.

Then there is the sultry cut from Lemvo's most recent release, “Isabela,” an album named after his 2-year-old daughter. It's a Turkish tune that captures Lemvo's upbeat outlook as much as his genre-blending instrumentation. Turkish is not a language Lemvo speaks, but he said he was so smitten by the song that he had to cover it.

“The original was pop style and a fast tempo,” said Lemvo. “So I slowed it down and gave it my own cachet with a tango bass line. My old booking agent happened to be from Turkey and she translated and coached me. 'Elbette' literally means 'but of course.' ” If the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening,

If the deepest wound can be healed, why must we fear life?

But of course (elbette) I will cry.” But of course (elbette) I will laugh.

The message of the song is about hope,” Lemvo said.

No matter how bleak things may look, there is a bright tomorrow.

- The San Diego Union Tribune

"Ricardo Lemvo's Dance Machine"

Ricardo Lemvo's Dance Machine
By Mike Joyce in The Washington Post

Few groups render a seating chart moot faster than Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca. Rows of chairs were removed when the international ensemble performed at the Wolf Trap Barns on Thursday, leaving a large crowd of Afro-Caribbean music fans free to dance the night away.

The nine-piece band's rhythmic charm never flagged as it celebrated Cuban, African and homegrown varieties of party music.

- The Washington Post

"Makina Loca gets its Afro-Cuban On"

Q. Does Makina Loca sound more African or more Cuban?
A. Yes. Actually, it has the chops to sound like whatever it wants to, and there's nothing we can do about it except get up and dance. - Timba.com

"Ricardo Lemvo: Infused with the Cuban beat"

Hooked as a child in Africa, Lemvo is living his salsa dream - The Los Angeles Times

"Ricardo Lemvo blends Cuba, Congo into one soulful package"

"Lemvo's passion for the roots of Afro-Cuba comes through in his singing. His voice is vibrant and melodious... he is one of the few artists in tropical music today who is moving the genre forward."

- The Chicago Tribune

"Ricardo Lemvo in New York"

"Whether they're kicking out Cuban jams or taking afro-pop to the bridge, Lemvo and company will make you sweat."

- Time Out New York


Tata Masamba (1996)
Mambo Yo Yo (1998)
Sao Salvador (2000)
Ay Valeria (2003)
Isabela (2007)
Retrospectiva (2009)
La Rumba SoYo (Coming in 2014)



Ricardo Lemvo has established himself as a pioneer with his innovative music. Lemvo's blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms with pan-African styles (soukous, Angolan semba and kizomba) has been described by the Los Angeles Times as "seamless and infectious."

This Congo-born artist of Angolan ancestry is the embodiment of the Afro-Latin Diaspora which connects back to Mother Africa via the Cuban clave rhythm. Lemvo is truly multicultural and equally at home singing in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Lingala, and Kikongo.

Through the years, Lemvo has performed countless shows in many festivals, night clubs, and Performing Art Centers throughout Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Australia.

Lemvo's six CDs, Tata Masamba, Mambo Yo Yo*, Sao Salvador*, Ay Valeria, Isabela and Retrospectiva have been enthusiastically acclaimed by both print and broadcast media worldwide. His seventh album La Rumba SoYo will be released this summer on Cumbancha (www.cumbancha.com).

Lemvo has been the subject of various radio and television programs including BBC Radio, Radio France Internationale, Radio-Telvision Belge, National Public Radio, CBS Sunday Morning, NBC Today Show, CNN World Beat, National Geographic World Music, Radio Nacional de Angola, and Televisao Publica de Angola.

In film, Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca appeared in the 1998 movie Dance With Me starring Vanessa Williams and Chayanne.

Ricardo Lemvo leaves an indelible impression with any and all who hear his music or see him perform. Why? Because, like Lemvo, there is no other.

* Mambo Yo Yo and Sao Salvador were released in 1998 and 2000, respectively, by PUTUMAYO WORLD MUSIC (www.putumayo.com)

Band Instrumentation: keyboard, bass, congas, drums, guitar, trumpet, trombone, lead vocals.

Band Members