Manu Dibango, saxophonist from Cameroon, best known for his 1972 worldwide hit “Soul Makossa”, has died from complications of Covid-19, aged 86. After forming his own band in Cameroon in 1963, he moved to Paris a couple of years later before he finally made his breakthrough. Manu released his first album “Saxy-Party” in 1969. Three years later, his funky Afro-Beat turned the world around with “Soul Makossa”. For most of the 70s, he released his albums on the French Fiesta label and in the 80s, he recorded for his AfroVision label, which he established in Paris.
Manu, who has played with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Don Cherry, from Sly & Robbie to Bill Laswell, was known for his immensely versatile playing and even though his forte was his Afro-Beat funk, you can also hear him play reggae, soul, jazz (on an album playing Sidney Bechet for example), spirituals, and electro. On his 1980 LP “Gone Clear”, his reggaefied Afro beats featured Jocelyn Brown (wordless on the bright and easy “Full Up”), a catchy and still highly enjoyable “Goro City”, and also Michael and Randy Brecker, Jon Faddis, and Gwen Guthrie.