Manu Dibango, the Cameroonian saxophone maestro who whose afro-jazz style has been celebrated for years, has died aged 86 in a Paris hospital after contracting coronavirus.
A message on his Facebook page announced the news: “It is with deep sadness that we announce you the loss of Manu Dibango, our Papy Groove, who passed away on 24th of March 2020, at 86 years old, further to Covid-19.”
“His funeral service will be held in strict privacy, and a tribute to his memory will be organised when possible,” the message continued.
Dibango, whose musical style blended elements of jazz, funk, and traditional Cameroonian music, a member of the seminal Congolese rumba group, African Jazz, where he would regularly collaborate with a string of critically acclaimed musicians. It wasn’t until 1976, however, that the musician earned international recognition following the release of his disco hit ‘Big Blow’ which was subsequently released in the UK through Island Records.
Despite the success of ‘Big Blow’, fans of Dibango will be quick to point out his hugely popular 1972 single ‘Soul Makossa’ as a shining light of his career. Having worked prolifically over a long and hugely successful life in the music business, Dibango released a huge number of studio albums with the first arriving in 1968 and his final effort, Balade En Saxo, shared in 2013.
The ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease was first officially identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei in China. As of March 23rd, more than 342,410 cases of COVID-19 have been officially confirmed but the actual number is thought to be much higher due to substantial under-reporting of cases.
With more than 14,762 people having died from the virus, COVID-19 has now spread into more than 180 other countries—including mainland Europe, South America and North America. Given the exponential growth in cases in countries like Italy, Spain and the UK, the WHO have now stated that Europe was the current centre of the pandemic.