By Serge Bellegarde
Continuing a year old tradition, I now present to you a list the ten best CD's for 2001. Just like last year, I had some difficulty narrowing the selection down to the 10 best. This result is entirely suggestive and not the fruit of any survey. As they say in French, " les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas ". Without further ado, here are my gift recommendations for this holiday season:
Quite a few Konpa Cds were released in 2001 and here are my favorites, in no particular order :
- Let it groove : ZENGLEN
This is a nice konpa CD which shows how much the Group Zenglen has matured. The group plays with discipline, the melodies are nice and the music and the groove are nice. The mixing is good and the lyrics could be better, even though they are acceptable. But this is good dancing music.
- Bang bang : CARIMI
This is a new group adn their first CD. The Group really came out with a bang. I thorougly enjoyed the title tune " Bang Bang ". But the whole album is equally nice. The rythm is solid. I can very well understand why the young generation swears by these guys. It is excellent and I hope it can keep it up. It is a must in a party.
- Carte Blanche : PIERRE-MICHEL MÉNARD
I acquired this CD, not really knowing what to expect. It turns out to be quite a nice CD, with a mix of Konpa, Salsa and Merengue. P.M. Ménard did a good job of selecting traditional Haitian songs and playing them on Konpa and Salsa beats. The rythm is solid and the Salsa arrangements are superb. There is an interesting merengue sung in Italian. This is very good dancing CD.
- NEW YORK ALL STARS. This is what I called high class Konpa CD. An excellent cast of seasoned musicians is featured. One caveat however : this is the kind of CD you have to listen to more than once to catch the many nuances. At least, this has been my experience with it . But I do not hesitate to recommend it. This is a nice album, the mixing is good and the lyrics are quite acceptable.
- Guitarement votre : TOTO LARAQUE
Toto Laraque is a very versatile Haitian guitarist who has played with countless Haitian groups. This CD showcases his individual talent and it is a very good album. He has a very nice and fluid style on the guitar which is very relaxing. Not flashy, but harmonious. There is a very original konpa arrangement of George Benson's " Breezin ". A nice gift.
- En plein cœur : HERBY WIDMAIER
This is an absolutely wonderful album of ballads which showcases the voice of a great singer, a great arranger and a great connoisseur of music. One has to wonder why Herby Widmaier took 25 years before releasing this music. You will be reminded of Johnny Hartman, if you know him. There are some sophisticated arrangements that are out of this world. I highly recommend it.
- Ayiti Toma, Chansons d'Haiti : CHŒUR, VOIX ET TAMBOURS D'HAÏTI
This CD, under the musical direction of Antoine Chéry, is representative of the best in Haitian choir music. For those who used to listen to " Chœur Simidor ", they will derive tremendous joy listening to this CD. The singing is excellent, very professional and very competent. Mr. Chéry did an outstanding job and I hope he does not stop there.
- Badou Badou : PIERRE-RIGAUD CHÉRY
Pierre-Rigaud Chéry is a Haitian guitarist who has cooperated with a lot of Haitian artists, but finally released his own CD in 2001. This is a nice CD by one of the many excellent Haitian guitarists on the scene now. His playing is sensitive, subtle and quite reminiscent of the great Brazilian guitarists Baden Powell. He plays a variety of rythms, from bossa nova to ballads, to Haitian troubadours. So if you like Haitian guitars, this is an album you may want to add to your collection or give as a gift.
- Haitiando : COMPARENGUE
This is Volume 3 of Haitiando, and it is excellent. A nice gift package would be to offer all three of them, they are all excellent. The arrangements are excellent, the rythm is infectious, the mixing is very good. What else can I say, this is Haitiando ![/*:m]
- Comme jadis : GINA DUPERVIL
Last but not least, Haitian artist Gina Dupervil's latest release is a joy to listen to. The music is relaxing, the arrangements are excellent and the mixing is pretty good. This is unfortunate that I have only one female represented in those ten best CDs for 2001. I hope that will not be the case next year. Iat least, Gina Dupervil 's CD saves the day for Haitian female artists this year. Thanks God for that ! But what a sad commentary that I have to say that, when one knows the man
Apart and separate from the above, may I suggest the following CDs as special gifts :
- Professor Jean-Julien's CD series on Haitian History. There are now 7 volumes, the seventh one having just been release and it goes up to 1922. This is a fascinating period of our history, as we hear about the infamous Haitian Occupation and other details. Professor Julien'delivery in Kreyòl is as enjoyable as the many small historical facts that we learn and that help understand why things are the way they are today in Haiti. I cannot think of a more meaningful and precious gift to ayone interested in the history of Haiti.
- Micheline Laudun Denis. If you remember this icon of Haitian classical music, you will be happy to know about the release of this CD under tne Mini Records label. This concert was recorded in 1985 and showcases the extraordinary talent of Mrs. Laudun Denis, who is still active by the way. This is her first and only CD. The sound is clear and this is a real joy to listen to her playing Bach, a very difficult composer, Beethoven, Carmen Brouard, Férère Laguerre, Debussy and others. This is a fine gift.
December 2001 Windows on Haiti