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Just Bongo were formed in Swansea in 1983 playing mainly original material that combined latin, jazz and funk with pop songs. Original members Mike Gambon (vocals), Mark Thomas (guitar), Kevin Jones (trumpet and percussion), Chris Leek (alto sax) and Ado Rees (percussion and vocals) were joined in early 1984 by Llanelli musicians Gareth Phillips (bass), Pete Mason (drums) and Chris Ryan (tenor and soprano saxes). The band were soon a regular feature of the South Wales scene including regular gigs in Swansea and Cardiff and the Wales and West college circuit.
The band featured their track “Calling More” on a Notepad Productions compilation album later that year that a strong afro-groove. Their first single “Calling More/Dont Give It Up” was released in 1985 and the band made television appearances on both HTV’s “Rock Solid” and BBC Wales’ “Juice”. Chris Leek and Ado Rees left in early 1986 and were replaced by Lee Evans (keyboards). A further single - “James Brown/One Man Show” followed. The band also ventured abroad playing the first of five tours to Germany in late 1986. Lee left in 1987 and was replaced by Phyl ab Owain (keyboards). An appearance on national television followed on BBC1’s “Its Wicked”. The band won the Welsh heat of a national competition in Cardiff and 1987 and attracted interest from national record companies but no firm deal. Meanwhile they had built up a sizeable following in Germany where they continued to tour. Eventually they decided to call it a day in late 1988 and a final appearance took place at Cinderellas in Mumbles. A brief re-union took place in the Autumn of 1990 when the band made a further venture to Germany and also featured on the London pub circuit. Playing what might be termed “acid jazz” before the term was coined, the band were perhaps slightly ahead of their time.
A brief re-union took place in 2013 with a one-off appearance at Swansea’s Garage.
Now the band are planning a series of further dates with an eye on the festival circuit in 2018.
Watch this space....!!!!
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