On Sunday, a bit of Harlem was transformed as rumbling percussion was joined by soaring vocals and the melodic guitar-strumming- Rumba in full effect. The Lifelong Project Band, led by Congolese percussionist Isaac Katalay and featuring singer Rafiya, recreated Kinshasa in Harlem at the Poets Den Theater. Large enough to seat a decent crowd but not too big to feel intimate, the space was just right for the uplifting and vibrant sounds of the Congo.
Katalay laid on percussion and vocals while music flowed from his supporting cast. Watching the Lifelong Project Band work together as they exchanged smiling nods and quick looks tied to drums cues and seamless transitions was nearly as delightful as listening them play. This was complemented by the Rafiya, whose sonorous voice was a joy to hear.
Followed by a reception and gallery with selections by garifuna ambassador DJ P Whyte, the entire show was a fine evening. Despite the absence of several musical guests, The Lifelong Project Band succeeded in bringing a slice of the Congo to New York. We hope they will return in force soon.