Mbongi- The CD

Original Music from Mbongi and The Magic Shop

 At the end of the day, people in the village gather around a fire. They come to discuss, to make music, to confront problems, and to touch the world of spirit. This creates community. This is Mbongi.

Mbongi (pronounced Bone-gee) is a Congolese word that means "the learning circle". Mbongi tends to reduce social strata, promote unguarded interaction, and inspire respect and joy.

When Titos Sompa and Christopher Hedge get together with an audience it is also called a Mbongi. It is as much an action and an event as it is the name of this project and CD.

The music of Mbongi allows its listeners to reach beyond the limits of their immediate cultural experience. Influenced by a diverse range of musical styles, the composers instinctively find the common ground. They work with instruments and musicians from around the world, all of whom contribute the fruits of their own musical journeys to the mix. Classical, American Bluegrass, Jazz and Irish folk, Avant Garde electronic and African, Arabic and Oriental, Mississippi blues and Big Band swing are just a few of the musical styles that contributed to the birth of Mbongi.

The Mbongi style of music and poetry is not an abstract, conscious attempt to combine world music but rather, the inevitable expression of its' creators. The chance meeting of Christopher Hedge and Titos Sompa has resulted in an ensemble of musicians that embody the inclusive philosophy that is community, that is Mbongi.

 Sample Tracks

(These samples are in Mp3 format)

I Know What I Want
Dance in Fire

Ma Ma Ngo Ngo (Friendship)
A Big View of the World
Mwana Kongo
Mbongi (The Learning Circle)
You and I

Ju Ju
Trail of Tears

The Songs

(Click the title for a RealAudio sample)

Overture The orchestra tuning, the African drums and many other elements were recorded with a "Holophone" (the 3-D microphone used on Pink Floyd's "The Final Cut"). It was one of three ever created by Hugo Zucherelli, the other two were on loan to Michael Jackson and The Disney Studios. When Hedge made Sompa aware of this "once in a lifetime" opportunity, Sompa called in African drummers from Paris, New York, New Orleans and throughout the Bay Area to a large sound stage, where they proceeded to record for days. The voices yelling at the start were recorded across a valley in the Big Sur National Forest.


I Know What I Want

Dance in Fire
"Dance in Fire" was recorded originally for a live performance with the legendary, Paul Horn, in a two hundred year old opera house in Rieti, Italy. The performance eventually became the subject of the Tony Papa film," Inside Italy". Horn, Hedge and Mbongi violinist Julian Smedley, were accompanied by multi-media projections designed to match the intricate architecture of the opera house.

Ma Ma Ngo Ngo (Friendship)

A Big View of the World

Mwana Kongo

Mbongi (The Learning Circle)

You and I
"The Rings of Saturn"
The child's voice before "You and I" , talks about riding a bicycle around the rings of Saturn. He is Christopher's' son Nicholas, who was being filmed on the set of a PSA that Hedge was directing. Nicholas, several High School and college students, Titos, and Christopher's daughter Brandi, were discussing world peace in a live filming session, that was eventually aired across the US and Canada. Over fourteen million people heard their simple plea for common sense.


Ju Ju

The background singers on "Animals" are Titos, Christopher and Jeanie Tracy. They are simply saying "uh-huh" but meaning a different thing each time. The piece is about slavery and slave ships but, when they were recording, they were responding to pictures ranging from corporate cubicles to fast food stores, dispossessed youth to "singles" clubs. The transition to "Trail of Tears" was recorded during a Mbongi concert where Titos is calling for the audience and their ancestors to celebrate their freedom. He was spraying whiskey over the crowd, from his mouth.

Trail of Tears
The background telephone voices on "Trail of Tears" , were friends and family that called in from all over the world. They were each personally connected with the words "All the people of the World have a Trail of Tears". They were holocaust survivors, Central Americans, WWII survivors... Each person understood that they were speaking directly

All compositions © 1997 Titos Sompa/Christopher Hedge - All rights reserved - BMI/ASCAP

Please let us know what you think of this music! Email Titos!



All songs by Titos Sompa and Christopher Hedge

Recorded at The Magic Shop

Kongolese Lyrics - Titos Sompa
English lyrics - Christopher Hedge

Produced by Titos Sompa and Christopher Hedge

Recorded and Mixed by Christopher Hedge

Titos Sompa - Lead and Background vocals, African Drums, Kalimbas, Bells, Baliphone, Percussion

Christopher Hedge - Background vocals, Piano, Guitars, Mandolin, Banjo, Bass, Drums, Keyboards, Percussion

Skyler Jett - Lead and Background vocals

Horns by Arthur Blythe, Chico Freeman, Hamiet Bluiett, Olu Dara


Ed McClary - Drums

Jeanie Tracy - Background Vocals

Bisa Sompa - Conga - Robert Powell - Dobro (Overture)

Julian Smedley - Violin (Overture - I Know What I Want)

Ray Loeckle - Sax chorus (I Know What I Want)

Gary Brown - Bass (Overture - I Know What I Want)

Sam Pointer - Mandolin (Overture - I Know What I Want)

Joan Shaff - Vocal Chorus (Overture)

Pranesh Khan - Tabla (Trail of Tears)

Orchestration - SF Conservatory Orchestra

Trail of Tears Voices:

Mary Smedley-England Mary Hedge-America Toshi Onuki-Japan Bernard Broclawski-Yiddish

Dulce Argueles-Cuba Erika Luckettt-Portugese Cat Schlyder-Austrailia Alfredo Fernandez-Spain

Lilia Santiago-Mexico Emile Borel-France Kim Hong Seob-Korea Sukhawat Ali Khan-India

XRADZ (Julia Zdarsky)-Austria Ron Nasim-Israel

"Rings of Saturn" voice and inspiration for "Trail of Tears" - Nicholas Hedge

What people are saying about Mbongi...

"I want to tell you all about one particular CD that I used in the fund-drive that got an instant, record-breaking, phenomenal response from my listeners. It's called "Mbongi" and is put out on "The Magic Shop" label out of South San Francisco.The song "Trail of Tears", which is about 13 minutes long, is one of the most powerful pieces of music I have ever heard. There is something VERY SPECIAL and unusual about the way Chris Hedge mixed this CD. My pick for best record so far this year ."
Sandy Miranda
Producer, "Music of the World"
KPFA, Berkeley, California

"Mbongi is a magical CD. I'll pitch it to my usual outlets, Wired, SF Chronicle, Pulse, East bay Express, E!online, etc."
j. poet San Francisco

"It's finally here! Mbongi is really as good as I hoped or even better. I'll do special radio-show about your music 15 of June at 21.05-21.55 (Monday evening here). For me listening of your CD is really great pleasure,there's something I was looking for a long time.Thank You once more!"
Tðnu Timm
Radio 'Kuku'

"I think it is a lovely album...Sandy was right about the mixing. Great professional sound without being overproduced. Nice mix of American and African music.Your Mbongi CD is really a hot item!"
Judith Gennett-Operations Director
KEOS Radio
Bryan, TX

"Thank you so much for the CD MBONGI. Truely new and unusual music, just what I like. All morning I've been enjoying it."
Jana Russon

Love your CD with Titos! It is really has a great sound! So very original!
Flash Terry
Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

Love and special thanks to:


Ed McClary, Rob Powell, Julian Smedley, Gary Brown, Biza Sompa, Dakota Aime

Bikouta, Nancy, Poppa Joe, Paul Horn, Anthony Choy, Loris Mounkala Nkodia Gilbert,Jack Hsu, Scott Dewar,

Aldo Panattoni, Total Video, Ed Martinez, Dennis Stearns, Kendis Lowe, MaMaSharon, Brandi, Ryan, Nick, Kinwani,

Francie, Tony Papa, Marathon Studios (NYC), Different Fur Studio (SF), Dolby Labs (SF), Cutting Edge Audio, Matsco