Kékélé's third album 'Kinavana' pays tribute to the muisc of Guillermo Portablaes. It comprises 12 songs that Portabales composed or recorded. In place of the original Spanish lyrics, the Kékélé singers have written new Lingala lyrics that are decidely not translations from Spanish. 'BaKristo', for example, is based on the music of 'El Carretero', but instead of telling a wagoner's tale it denounces the efforts of evangelical churches in Africa to ban all music that is not Christian. The arrangements are also new, devised by Syran Mbenza and Papa Noel (back with Kékélé after a hiatus forced by illness) with Nelson Hernandez, the Venezuelan arranger best known for his work with salsa stars like celia Cruz and Oscar D'Leon. With charanga flutes and violins on some pieces, sexteto-style trumpets for funky saxophone solos on others, and Congolese guitars throughout, Kékélé's sound is quite different from that of Portables and his trio or quartet.
The sax soloist on five pieces is the one and only Manu Dibango. His participation in this project brings his wide-ranging career full circle, for Dibango played with Grand Kallé's Orchestre African Jazz at its peak in the early 60s.
For the music of 'Kinavana', like the title combining Kinshasa and Havana, is both Congolese and Cuban.