[Compte rendu] Syroko’s victory in the Les Syli d’Or competition

Organized by Productions Nuits d’Afrique, on 15Y The edition of the competition for emerging mixed music artists Les Syli d’Or finally reconnected with the public last Thursday night during a festive finale presented at the La Tulipe cabaret. The victory of the Syroko group was beyond any doubt, the orchestra elegantly combined Algerian chaabi, Andalusian music and French song. It was, obviously, the most refined and successful proposal of this ending; the flamboyant Papish’s Latin pop disco project won the silver Syli, while Congolese-born Blaise Labamba’s small orchestra Kotakoli finished a good third with the bronze Syli.

Led by guitarist and singer Yles Hamadou, the Syroko Orchestra took over the stage at the end of this gaily colorful musical evening. Two percussionists, a double bass player, an accordionist, a violinist (Laetitia Franco-Lévesque, who immerses her bow in various musical projects in the metropolis) and a banjo player (Ali Idres, excellent) accompany her during this “Algerian” singing tour. . , Spanish and French, because this is Montreal: we mix, we have no choice! “I launched Hamadou while the management was trying to get rid of nagging feedback at the beginning of the show.

The ground gently undulated to the rhythm of the darbouka piercing the rich orchestrations the trilingual group was famous for. If I’m not mistaken, Syroko still doesn’t have an album to offer, but it will come, since in addition to the great honors of this 15Y edition, the orchestra also gains hours of study for the recording of a project and is guaranteed to participate in some provincial festivals, starting with the next edition of the Festival international des Nuits d’Afrique, including the 36Y edition will take place from July 12 to 24.

dance finale

Second in the results of the race determined by a professional jury and the vote of the public, Papish made the gallery dance with his repertoire certainly attached to popular Latin American currents -cumbia, reggaeton-, but resolutely pop in its conception. A percussionist played electronic drums, the sound of sequenced drums serving as the basis for the group’s compositions, sometimes more dub-rock, if not more disco and danceable.

At its head, Papish stands out less for the force of his voice than for his spectacularly playful presence. To create the atmosphere in one night, we can certainly count on him. He dances, gesticulates, harangues the crowd as if they were his own family, who by the way were at La Tulipe, both to applaud him and to celebrate his birthday.

In charge of breaking the ice at the beginning of the evening, Blaise Labamba and the Kotakoli orchestra were the most experienced musicians in this final. Before coming to settle in Quebec, Labamba had learned the trade within the Big Stars orchestra, founded in 1991 by the late General Defao, one of the great stars of the Congolese music scene in the 1990s and 2000s, a pillar of the local rumba, soukous and ndombolo. It is precisely this type of musical energy that Labamba took care to recreate on the stage of La Tulipe.

And it was successful… but on a small scale. Rumba orchestras across the Atlantic are massive, sometimes bringing together more than a dozen musicians and as many dancers. Kotakoli is the small-scale version: a drummer, a guitarist, a keyboardist, Labamba as master of ceremonies, accompanied by a dancer. Everything was there, the costumes, the choreography, but the music inevitably lacked punch, reduced to a roughly orchestrated rhythm section. The rawness of the songs served the festive urgency conveyed by the musicians, but made us dream of a maximalist version of the same project, enhanced by additional percussionists and guitarists.

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