Andre Manga

andre_mangaA native of Yaounde, Cameroon, jazz composer, arranger and bassist Andre Manga built his first musical instrument at the age of seven, a pseudo-marimba constructed from bamboo and part of a tree trunk; he later designed a guitar with strings made from bicycle brake cables as well.

A chance encounter with worldbeat superstar Manu Dibango convinced Manga to pursue a career as a performer, but his parents disapproved of his musical leanings and sent him off to boarding school; ironically, soon after his arrival the school formed its own orchestra, and he soon emerged among its leading players.

By age 17, Manga was a bassist with the Cameroon National Orchestra, soon after relocating to the city of Gabon to become a top session musician; in 1988, he moved to Paris, touring with Pierre Akendengue before joing his hero Dibango.

By 1995, he had settled in Los Angeles with the goal of combining jazz with traditional African rhythms; towards that end, he formed the group Dumazz — vocalists Chana Smith and Zia DeJan, guitarist Sanjay Divecha, keyboardist John Opferkuch, saxophonist Bobby English, drummer Jan Fabricky and percussionist Cassio Duarte. Their Narada label debut LP Mother Rhythm appeared in 1998.