Q & A with Passi Jo

Photos - Courtesy of Pam Kleemann and Nissa BriggsPassi_Jo_PK_024

Come down to Bar 303 tonight for a benefit gig for Congolese musician Passi Jo. His music is joyful and infectious, described as Latin-infused Soukouss/Afro-beat music. He will incorporate traditional, folkloric Rumba style dancing with the more modern, more energetic Soukous style, adding a hint of Latin American Salsa. Born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Passi Jo has performed all over Africa, Europe, South America, Russia, Canada, The US, and now Australia where he lives. His musical career has spanned three decades and he has released more than 15 albums during this time

In 2014 cancer became part of his repertoire. Here's your chance to support a wonderful musician who's contributed so much to music locally and globally, and has been struggling to complete a new album between bouts of chemo, radiation, hospitalisation and more chemo. So from cancer, to CD completion, to the Congo and into the unknown, the topsy-turvy journey continues...

The line-up will include:

The joyful and beguiling Black Boris & Tukuvana (Formerly Passi Jo & Warako Musica)

The hypnotic and melodic Afrovival http://afrovival.com.au/

The uplifting Bolingo Choir with Passi Jo & Ajak Kwai

Animation/Playback from Kenyan Mbote

Wild moves from dancer Jacquie Dreessens

The wonderful Jill Morgan, Multicultural Arts Victoria CEO, as MC

Saturday 28 November

8PM - 1AM

Cost $15 Concession or $20 Full

WarakoMusica © Nisa Briggs


MAC: What have you done so far today? Jo: I went to see my friends who are part of my band to talk about to talk about future projects for when I return from overseas and for the benefit gig on Saturday night.

MAC: What inspires you? Jo: My Congolese music, but really any music!

MAC: How would you describe Congolese music and dance? Jo: It's very energetic! It doesn't matter if you don't listen to or understand the words, the rhythm will make you want to dance. It's melodic and has real feeling. Your feet can't help themselves. They just start to move! The power travels from your heart to your toes. It's infectious and joyful.

MAC: You moved to Australia some time ago after traveling the world – what drew you to Australia? Jo: Something in my spirit was telling me to come to here. When I was young, I dreamt about it. I didn't know about Australia, but a spiritual man told me, in the presence of my father, that I would go very far away. When I was living in Paris, I received a call from an old friend asking me to do something with him in Australia! The 1st time I came here I had still two bands in Paris. I was here for 1 month then I went back to Paris to tour in Africa, but my dream had come true, and I knew I'd be coming back.

MAC: Completing an album would be a momentous undertaking under any circumstances, let alone while battling cancer. How close is the album to being ready for the world, and how has the journey shaped it? Jo: Thankfully, much of the recording was done before my hospitalisation and recovery, so it's reasonably close to being finished. I'm a very spiritual person and I've prayed hard that my body would cope and I could finish the recording. It's been a focus for me. There are two songs yet to finish, some of the others have been mixed and the mastering will soon be done. I would go to the studio on the days that I felt stronger, once I'd recovered from major surgery. Being immersed in the music again has kept me buoyant.

Passi Jo

MAC: There’s a benefit concert for you this weekend, it sounds like it's going to be a superb time. What can we expect? Jo: It's a dynamic lineup of entertainment, with the joyful and beguiling Black Boris and Tukuvana, (myself and my former band Warako Musica), the hypnotic and melodic Afrovival, with their oil can guitar from Botswana, the uplifting Bolingo Choir with myself and Sudanese diva Ajak Kwai; there's musical animation and playback from Kenyan performer, Mbote; wild moves from dance troupe Wild Moves with the gorgeous Jacqui Dreessens, and Multicultural Arts Victoria's CEO, Jill Morgan will be the MC for the night. It will be a journey of music and dance across the African continent.

MAC: You conduct dance classes – what would you say to a super-awkward-while-dancing-sober person to make them be less painfully awkward? Jo: I would do my best to teach them Rumba and Soukouss. I would push them, and dance with them; I'd go slowly, slowly to teach them. You have to love dance and commit to trying, love what you're doing!

MAC: If you had entrance music or a theme song, what would it be? Jo: I love all music! Symphonic, Jazz, Rock'n'Roll, the Congolese musical genius and the legendary guitar player, Franco, my friend Sam Mangwana from Angola... It's hard to pick one song. My mother sang beautiful folkloric songs about love, like Mbongi and Helena, which I will sing with the choir on Saturday night. Maybe the soundtrack to my life would be a compilation!

Passi Jo 26 Nov 2105

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Passi Jo_03_PamKleemann©2012