Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou (sometimes prefaced with T.P. or Tout Puissant, French for "All Powerful") is a band from Cotonou, Benin, originally active from the 1960s to the 1980s and founded by singer-guitarist Mélomé Clément. They reformed in 2009 to international recognition. Their work has mixed styles such as funk, afrobeat, psychedelia, jazz and local voodoo influences. The Guardian called them "one of West Africa's best dance bands."[1]

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou
Background information
OriginCotonou, Littoral, Benin
Years active1968-1980s, 2009-present
LabelsSoundway, Analog Africa, Strut
  • Mélomé Clément (vocals, guitar)
  • Papillon (guitar, piano)
  • Adjanohoun Maximus (guitar)
  • Eskill Lohento (vocals)
  • Amenoudji Joseph Vicky (vocals)
  • Agbemadon Paul Gabo (vocals)
  • Kounkou Diak Theo (vocals)
  • Yehouessi Leopold (drums)
  • Sagbohan Danialou (drums)
  • Vincent Ahéhéhinnou (vocals)
  • Somassou Nestor (congas)
  • Bentho Gustave (bass)
  • Loko A. Pierre (saxophone, vocals)
  • Koutouan Ossey Theodore (trumpet)
  • Cakpo Cosme (trumpet)
  • Tidiani Koné (saxophone, trumpet)
  • Allade Lucien
  • Anago Cosme (vocals)
  • Agbahoungba Philibert (guitar)
  • D'Almeida Mathurin (drums, congas)
  • Agonglo Bayo (drums)
  • Loko Moïse (piano)
  • Hounnonkpe Léon (piano)
  • Guedou Thierry (brass)
  • Ahouandjinou Martial (brass)
  • Gnonlonfoun Samuel (brass)
  • Alladé Vignéré (percussion)
  • Atohoun Sylvain (vocals)
  • Francois Hoessou


Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou was first formed by bandleader Mélomé Clément in 1968 under the name "Orchestre Poly-Disco" in the coastal town of Cotonou, Benin.[2] Their debut album was originally released in 1973.[3] From the late 1960s through the early 1980s, the group recorded around 500 songs in a variety of musical styles for various Beninese record labels, making them among the most prolific groups of the 20th century.[4] The 1982 deaths of guitarist Papillon and drummer Yehouessi Léopold hobbled the group, and by the end of the 1980s they had disbanded.[5]


A compilation of their back catalogue, Reminiscin' in Tempo released on the Popular African Music label in 2003,[6] followed by The Kings of Benin Urban Groove 1972-80 on Soundway Records the following year.[7] A trio of compilations released by Analog Africa beginning in 2008 brought the band to greater global attention.[8][9][10][11]

This interest led the band to reform and tour internationally as a 10-piece group featuring five original members: singer/guitarist Mélomé Clément, singer Vincent Ahéhéhinnou, guitarist Maximus Ajanohun, saxophonist Pierre Loko, and bassist Gustave Benthoto) with additional musicians. They released the album Cotonou Club (2011) and perform live concerts. They released two new studio albums: Cotonou Club, in 2011[12][13][14] and Madjafalao in 2016. Founder Clément died in 2012.

Musical styleEdit

According to The Austin Chronicle, the band's "turbulent funk" style drew on "the percussive mysticism of traditional voodoo rituals" while blending Nigerian highlife, Afro-Cuban jazz, and indigenous folk styles with the sounds of James Brown, the Doors, and Funkadelic.[15] The Quietus described their sound as a "heavy fusion of voodoo infused Afro-beat" indebted to Fela Kuti but "infused with the ancient sacred rhythms that had maintained the Benin people's links to their Dahomey roots" as well as "the youthful sounds emerging from both the Latin and African American diaspora," resulting in an urgent and optimistic psychedelic funk style.[16] Pitchfork stated that the group "developed its own distinctive style of hard-driving funk but still found time to record in just about every style imaginable, from highlife, Afrobeat, and rumba to rock, jazz, soul, and folk."[4]


Recent discographyEdit

In its heyday the Orchestre Poly-Rythmo released several dozen LPs and singles. The following discography refers only to the publications of recent years.


Title Label Year
T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou (Reminiscin’ in Tempo – African Dancefloor Classis) [sic] Popular African Music 2003
The Kings of Benin Urban Groove 1972-80 Soundway Records 2004
Volume 1: The Vodoun Effect – Funk & Sato from Benin’s Obscure Labels 1972–1975 Analog Africa 2008
Volume 2: Echos Hypnotiques – From the Vaults of Albarika Store 1969–1979 Analog Africa 2009
Volume 3: The Skeletal Essences of Afro Funk 1969-1980 Analog Africa 2013

Studio albums and reissuesEdit

Nouvelle Formule… IACP 2007
The 1st Album Analog Africa 2011 (reissue)
Cotonou Club Strut Records 2011
Cotonou Club / Radio Poly-Rythmo Sound d’Ailleurs 2011
Madjafalao Because Music 2016


  1. ^ Denselow, Robert. "Orchestre Poly-Rythmo: Cotonou Club – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  2. ^ Broughton, Simon (2010-01-14). "Benin's funk heroes: Orchestre Poly-Rythmo in Europe at last". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  3. ^ "The Quietus | Reviews | Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou". The Quietus. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  4. ^ a b Tangari, Joe. "Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou Volume One: The Vodoun Effect (Funk & Sato from Benin's Obscure Labels 1973-1975)". Pitchfork. Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  5. ^ Tangari, Joe. "Review: Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou - Cotonou Club". Pitchfork. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  6. ^ "popular African music". www.muzikifan.com. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  7. ^ "The Kings Of Benin Urban Groove 1972-1980 - T. P. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo | Release Info | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  8. ^ "Rhythmo de Cotonou, Vol. 1: Vodoun Effect - Funk and Sato from Benin's Obscure Labels 1972-1975 - Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou Dahomey | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  9. ^ "Album: Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou, The Vodoun Effect, (Analogue". The Independent. 2008-12-21. Archived from the original on 2022-05-24. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  10. ^ "Echos Hypnotiques, Vol. 2 - Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou Dahomey | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  11. ^ "Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou: Vol. 3: The Skeletal Essences of Afro Funk 1969-1980 - Spectrum Culture". Spectrum Culture. 2013-05-06. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  12. ^ "Dusted Reviews: Orchestre Poly-Rythmo - Cotonou Club". www.dustedmagazine.com. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  13. ^ Broughton, Simon (2010-01-14). "Benin's funk heroes: Orchestre Poly-Rythmo in Europe at last". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  14. ^ Denselow, Robin (2011-03-24). "Orchestre Poly-Rythmo: Cotonou Club – review". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  15. ^ Powell, Austin. "Voodoo Lounge The mystical funk of Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  16. ^ Thomas, Andy. "Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou THE FIRST ALBUM (REISSUE)". The Quietus. Retrieved 31 May 2022.

External linksEdit