Melanie L’Orchestre Afrisa International Colomotion Records Back in the late 1980s, in the wake of Paul Simon’s genuflection to Sowetan township jive in the groundbreaking Graceland, another wave of hypnotic African rhythm seduced international audiences — soukous, an irresistible Congolese dance groove predicated on rumba. Propelled by spiralling electric guitars and soaring singers, bubbly bass, soulful brass and Cuban-styled percussion, soukous became a default template for modern pan-African pop. Apart from Franco’s OK Jazz, no band from the country formerly known as Belgian Congo and Zaire was more successful or influential than Tabu Ley’s Afrisa and no singer more revered than its frontman. Before Ley died in 2013, his friend and bandmate, saxophonist Modero Mekanisi, vowed to revive the legacy of Congolese soukous by reuniting L’Orchestre Afrisa International. The upshot is Melanie, their first bona fide release for 20 years and an album that features all-new recordings of rare and classic songs from Afrisa’s repertoire as reinterpreted by many of the band’s original players. Having three excellent singers, each with a distinctive style, means there’s commendable variety in the lead vocals and some spectacular harmony singing. The band’s twin guitarists are busy throughout. Syncopated horns embellish sparingly, with several less frenetic numbers mid-set facilitating fine tenor sax solos. The improvisational aspect of the band’s all-round musicianship is implicit in 11 jam-like pieces, the majority of which span beyond eight minutes in duration.