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Le Tout-Puissant Orchestre Poly-Rythmo

Living legends out of the birthplace of Voodoo: Le Bénin Afrobeats / Author of hundreds of recordings / Oldest active African orchestra / Passionate musicians / From Voodoo funk to latin music

About Poly-Rythmo

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The creator of a unique and fascinating sound, the Poly-Rythmo is one of Africa’s biggest orchestras, for whom the term polyrhythm is not used in vain. The author of hundreds of recordings, this orchestra is one of the continent’s most prolific, as is the Congolese OK Jazz, the only possible rival in terms of published records. After five decades, the Poly-Rythmo is the oldest active African orchestra.


Throughout the 1960’s and 70’s, the formation structured itself around influences originating from traditional Beninese music, American soul and funk, Nigerian afrobeat, Congolese rumba, Ghanaian high-life, French pop and Afro-Cuban rhythms. The conductor, Mélomé Clément, chose the term Poly-Rythmo because of the great variety of rhythms they mastered and played.


The themes of the lyrics broach subjects such as the evolution of Beninese society and its ills, as well as the complexities of love. Despite strong competition from the other formations of the fertile Beninese music scene, the Poly-Rythmo rapidly rose to the top of the modern African orchestras.  United in the studio as on stage, the musicians of the Poly-Rythmo eloquently express the diversity of their talents.

“Grieving for the exiled thousands stranded in an inhospitable tract of Western Sahara, whose only escape is “music and imagination”. Potent stuff.”—The Guardian


“Héritier de l’enthousiasme de l’indépendance acquise par le Bénin au début des années 1960, le Poly-Rythmo a grandi avec les yéyés et Salut Les Copains en assumant un penchant pour James Brown et Johnny Hallyday à qui il rend hommage à travers des reprises de tubes…en version vaudoue ! C’est une véritable institution qui a accompagné les soubresauts historiques, culturels et politiques de l’Afrique de l’Ouest à l’heure des indépendances et de l’éveil d’une certaine identité panafricaine.”—Mondafrique


“They recorded more than 500 songs between 1966 and 1983, most of them at breakneck speed and not a single ballad among their number. These tunes were made with dancing feet in mind. A celebratory air cuts through the lot. The songs tend to burst into action with all the excitement of opening night at the funfair. The hypnotic percussion and pulsing basslines have an ancient feel but there’s a distinctly modern psychedelic twist to proceedings and new colours everywhere.”—The Irish Times


“One of west Africa’s finest bands. The playing was impressive as they switched between Benin “vodou funk” and soukous, Afrobeat, Latin styles and, on Africa Lonlon, echoes of James Brown. They ought to become festival favourites.”–The Guardian


Visit for more information. Gri Gri Music represents Le Tout-Puissant Orchestre Poly-Rythmo in Belgium.

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