Release of Richie's Le Konpa CD

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T-dodo

Release of Richie's Le Konpa CD

Post by T-dodo » Thu Jul 14, 2005 9:46 pm

Release of Richie of Zenglen CD

The release of Richie's (Zenglen's maestro and drummer) CD brought back a reality of the Haitian music industry. Those who buy CDs and go to nightclubs to dance Haitian music are less than thirty years old and perhaps have never heard a tune composed or played by Nemours Jean-Baptiste. That is also the puzzling fact about Zenglen's music being so entertaining, and yet their performances are not a crowd attraction. Friday night I went with much anticipation to Le Pavillon Restaurant in Miami to dance and buy this CD at the “CD release party” of Richie's first solo album. And yet, at midnight, there was not one car parked in front of Le Pavillon. A lousy tropical storm watch and an on-and-off rain scared the organizers of the party so much that they canceled the party the Haitian way (no advanced warning, no signs on the door that it has been cancelled) because Zenglen has a r
eputation of being a “low-crowd” attraction. This is not Carimi or Zin when more often than not the police has to close their “bals” before the scheduled end because of over-crowding.

Yet, despite the meager appeal to the under-thirty crowd, the Zenglen Group released another Konpa gem in less than one year. It happened after the solid “5-etwal” album release, which was considered as one of the best of 2004 in konpa by the forum's able and well-known reviewer, Serge Bellegarde. The theme of the album is the celebration of 50 years of the Konpa style of music. Richie used all the musical ploys to make us revive the past fifty years. He even included “chansonnettes françaises” of the period as part of the celebration. Names we have not heard for over thirty years, such as Loups Noirs, Shleu-Shleu resurfaced as well as Nelson Ned. Even Corneille's ”Aux ames bien nées, la valeur n'attend point le nombre des années” found its place in the réminiscence.

Although the first number on the CD, the I
ntro, is rather too long, Richie tried to establish in it a connection between this generation who does not want to go dancing Zenglen and all the musicians who before them make it possible for the musicians of today. All the songs are either arranged or composed by Richie. The pièce of resistance that follows the Intro, Le Konpa (Happy 50), is such a delight that you soon forget the length of the intro and be forced to reconsider whatever place you had Zenglen before in the HMI (Haitian music industry). The piece is full of melodies and the homage to Nemours Jean-Baptiste is very uplifting. They use a rather modern approach to Haitian music that is widely used by the very popular bands – Carimi, Zin, Ti-Vice, former Konpa Kreyol – that is short and memorable melodies supported by background vocals.

The album has 10 tunes on it, an Intro and, a novelty on Haitian konpa album, an end piece called, Silence. And that's what you get in it! From the first tune on the album, not counting the Intro, Le Konp
a (Happy 50) the #2, to the 7th one, J'aime ce Troubadour, the #8, you get seven solid pieces of music with something to please to almost every flavor in konpa. The more you listened to the CD the more Richie pleased. He reached his pinnacle with the #8 J'aime ce Troubadour. This is a number of his favorite ballads sang by a choice of some of the best singers in Miami. He invited several known artists to perform, including Roberto Martino, Arly Larivière (Nu-Look), Jacques Sauveur Jean (Jackito), Gazzman Pierre and played a lot of songs that are old public favorites in a deftly and delightful arrangement. There are two promising newcomers, as well: Da-Benz and Alexandra P Nicholas (Alex) with her sweet voice. Remember these names. The reviews of their performance on this album is the buzz of the HMI gossip columns.

While Bon Anniversaire may be the best on the album, it is difficult to make such pick; so much each of the tunes on the album has flavors. I gave up choosing which one I like the most.



In Le Konpa, Richie paid his respects to all the Konpa pioneers and particularly Nemours Jean-Baptiste. The album is a celebration of Konpa from beginning to the end. What makes it special is that Richie is able to maintain the theme all throughout while he touched on anything musical that can be related to the Konpa. If I get into describing each song, and almost all of them are that good, it would take too long. I will tell you, run to get that CD, for it is the best so far in 2005 and it is unlikely you will get something better for the rest of the year. The question you all will have after hearing the CD is which one of those solid tunes touched your sensibilities the most?

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Post by admin » Fri Jul 15, 2005 9:22 am

Excellent review, Jean-Marie! I am going to run and get that CD today. If I don't like it, I'll send you the bill. :-)

Kidding aside, I really appreciate this particular contribution of yours. It's healthy for the industry (I doubt that I am the only one who will be prompted by your review to go and buy that CD). It's highly beneficial for those among us who sometimes are tempted to buy a Haitian CD, but are not willing to spend 'hard to come by' $$ on chance (hoping real hard that the release is a good one). It also helps us realize that 'being Haitian' means more than being consumed by several lifetimes worth of political struggle, but that it means also listening and dancing to Haitian music, cooking and savoring Haitian food, speaking and writing (with care) our national language, the language of ALL the people, Haitian 'Kreyòl'. Being Haitian also means keeping alive a culture and a sense of
identity, without which having Haitian roots [birthplace, parent(s), ancestor(s)] is meaningless since we then might as well have been born in Siberia or Papua New-Guinea or descend from a long line of Vikings or undifferentiated European loyalty! Indeed, in our society, you will find individuals of Haitian descent, who will gladly trade all of their Haitian connections out of a sense of shame or in search of materialistic values, wealth, power, and upper mobility in the world of White Supremacy (by current historical standards). Hence, for some among us, the nagging feeling that our language cannot possibly be as good as theirs, our music cannot possibly be as good as theirs, our popular faith cannot possibly be as good as theirs, our community values cannot be as humanizing as theirs, our culture as a whole cannot possibly match theirs in any significant aspect. If I mention White Supremacy, do not get the idea that I am rejecting any European-based value: I enjoy classical mu
sic and even opera more than most Haitians would care to admit; I love reading/listening to well-written or well-spoken French, English and Spanish; I take what I can take from Christianity as guiding principles for the conduct of my life; I appreciate the feminine form in alllllllllllllllllllll of its God-created diversity and power of seductiveness; I marvel at enduring icons of European culture. I pride myself in being first and foremost a human being. That being said, I also have no problem distancing myself from the considerable hubris of European civilization and its excesses. Every morning when I wake up, I also know and remember who I am: a product of Haiti, Cap-Haitien, Dondon. I speak Kreyòl. I enjoy Konpa and traditional Haitian music. And while not subscribing to Vodou as a faith (for not ever having been truly exposed to it, and not being able to generate enough personal interest in religion in general, whatever that is), I do appreciate the Haitian religion's influences in our music, dance
s and folklore including our extraordinarily imaginative and scary tales, but deliberately excluding our anti-development superstitious beliefs and practices.

What does all of that have to do with your review of Richie's CD? I don't know. That's just the Haitian in me, talking but not knowing when to stop.

Forgive me.

But please write some more reviews for us. They nicely complement Serge's and fill in the gaps. I fondly remember the times when Serge used to write reviews of several albums each week (I am not kidding you!!) and I used to try my best to slow him down a little, since that also created a lot of work for me. From several albums per week, Serge was then able to release several reviews at the end of each month, then it slowed down to the rate of one CD per month, then to the current "one or two CD's" parfois. Either Serge's dancing hips have slowed dow
n with age considerably or the rate of pay at Windows on Haiti must not be very good ;-) ! Whichever the case, I am sure that Serge would not mind others pitching in sometimes and adding to the considerable body of work that he has pioneered voluntarily on Windows on Haiti for everyone's benefit.

And as always, whenever I can, I will continue to add samples of Haitian music on Winterludes (Windows on Haiti's music section). Don't be fooled, Winterludes is a lot of work, and I don't get any money out of it. While I have received some positive and encouraging feedback from "blan yo" (members outside of our community), my Haitian brothers and sisters have hardly ever mentioned it or let me know that they appreciate my efforts in any way. But I won't let that discourage me because I believe in what I am doing.

I hope that ultimately, when we can get our heads out of politics, others will join me in my efforts (and Serge's, and Jean-Marie's, and Leonel's, and Widy's) to promote Haitian and
Caribbean music. Who will be the beneficiaries? Haitian artists, primarily, and ultimately their appreciative fans, that is...the rest of us.

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:25 pm

Well, folks, I changed my mind! I was just listening to the #8, J'aime ce Troubadour, again. I made up my mind, it is my favorite on the album. Jackito's performance in this song, "Une lettre à ma Femme..."which is new to me, is so moving that it could erase sadness in your mind in most circumstances by listening to it. The performance reminded me how Jackito is being wasted in Miami and how whenever he has a good orchestra behind him as in this peice and in the Fair Konpa album - that I can't find anywhere despite my best efforts - he sounds like the superstar that he should be.

Jackito's song is followed by Ti Nès Salvant's rendition of "L'instant Présent n'a pas de rêve..." If that one does not move you, let me know and I will give you the referral for a good psychologist. And folks, don't forget Nickenson Prud'homme's (Nicky) performance on the keyboard on this album. He is sitting in my mind with the best in that business n
ow, including one of my favorites, David Dupoux of Plezi that has yet to release an album and prove that David, without Ti Jo (former Konpa Kreyol partner), is as entertaining as he was in the partnership in Konpa Kreyol.

So folks, go buy the CD and support our culture like Guy suggested earlier. If you live in Miami, let me know and I will give you good places to go buying so you don't risk having Serge's experience.

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Fri Jul 15, 2005 7:06 pm

Serge,

They were really some comments on the release party. I am waiting for your review, since nobody I know does it better than you. And also, I want to hear your reaction to the CD, since you will pick up nuances that I would not. I look forward to reading it and also, please, do not miss to indicate which one is your favorite.

Jean-Marie

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Post by admin » Thu Jul 21, 2005 3:45 pm

[quote]Well, folks, I changed my mind! I was just listening to the #8, J'aime ce Troubadour, again. I made up my mind, it is my favorite on the album. Jackito's performance in this song, "Une lettre à ma Femme..."which is new to me, is so moving that it could erase sadness in your mind in most circumstances by listening to it. The performance reminded me how Jackito...whenever he has a good orchestra behind him as in this piece...sounds like the superstar that he should be.

Jackito's song is followed by Ti Nès Salvant's rendition of "L'instant Présent n'a pas de rêve..." If that one does not move you, let me know and I will give you the referral for a good psychologist.[/quote]
To know what Jean-Marie is waxing romantic about, listen to it.

Good selection, Jean-Marie, but for my part I prefer Bon Anniversaire.

I also liked Kòk Gagè a lot, though I suspect that our Leonel must have had a hand in the writings of the lyrics.

In any case, I thouroughly enjoyed the CD (minus the somewhat ridiculous Intro and Silence sections) and I thank you for your review. I am now $13 poorer, but for glad for it, and I am happy to say that I do not yet need your reference for a good psychologist. [Keep it on file, though!]

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Fri Jul 22, 2005 9:46 am

Serge,

I had to also intervene, add to what you just said, and defend my good friend Leonel. In fact, I remember going dancing on Saturday nights at Ding-A-Ling Night Club/Restaurant in Delmas around 1980-1982, when Caribbean Sextet came out with Kòk Gagè. Boulo Valcourt together with Toto Laraque and others were playing this and it was a hit at the time, as many radio stations were repeating it all the time. By reviving that song, Richie is bringing up a lot of memories, and it still sounds good after so many years even though Richie modfied the original version. Good choice, Guy! I think Leonel is definitely off the hook here, at least for now.

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