Chronique musicale – Fred Paul strikes again!
Recently, the Haitian Parliament voted to declare July 26 the « National Day of Konpa », following an initiative by the artist senator Gracia Delva. Whatever one may say, it is a laudable initiative, even though one wishes that such decision would be part of a policy of using culture as a tool of development, much like what the Jamaican Government did by declaring Reggae a national treasure to be nurtured and reinforced. Konpa could have followed the same path if, like Reggae, or Zouk, it had benefitted from the same institutional support from a government intent on enhancing Haiti’s varied cultural assets. For that, it takes promoters who know what they are doing. That is the reason why Fred Paul deserves all the credit and all the gratitude Haitian musicians could give him.
It can be said that Fred Paul is the only Haitian in the field of music who deserves the title of promoter in my view. His incredible dedication to the promotion of Haitian music is legendary. He has not only produced Konpa music, but, various musical genres offering a rich spectrum of Haitian musical heritage. Witness the superb series of CDs from “Mini All Stars” ,“la Belle Époque” , “Haitiando”, the CDs by Gina Dupervil and many more. And he is not slowing down either.
Fred’s latest opus continues the tradition of excellence in his work. The recent double CD release of “Fred’s Playlist” by his famous Mini All Stars should be in everyone’s collection of Fred’s music vault. With this release, Fred Paul manages to combine the old and the new, while modernizing the sound and the arrangements. This is no easy feat, but made completely possible thanks to a superb cast of veteran musicians of konpa, both Haitian and non-Haitian. Here is just a sample of big names on the CDs: Nickenson Prud’Homme, Georgy Metellus, Michel Corvington, Yves Albert Abel, Nasser Chéry, Richard Bravo, Toto Laraque, Camille Armand, Didier Labossière, Mamina François Marcos Lopez, G. Laporte , Jean-Michel St. Victor, Bobby Raymond, Joe Charles and many more. This is a formidable cast of musicians and it is no wonder that the music sounds so good.
For those like me who had forgotten what Nemours Jean-Baptiste sounds like, the second CD opens up with a short interview by Nemours Jean-Baptiste in which he praises Fred Paul who “did not let his music get lost…” Indeed, this a labor of love which reflects the seriousness with which Fred works.
Speaking of the old and the new, you will have a lot of pleasure listening to the excellent arrangements of the music of Antalcidas Murat – Machan Kasav; E. FungCap (Les Ambassadeurs) – Anaïla; Gérard Dupervil – Tonton M; Wébert Sicot – Jwi Lavi, Kanaval Cadence Rampa; Magnum Band – Ou pi la; Lionel Dorlette – Vwazin Kam. And so many more.
Fred Paul is not only a dynamic promoter and a prolific producer, but also a composer. Indeed, five of tunes were composed by him, while he adapted a few others. The CD opens with one of his composition, “Aboubouba”, with the familiar voice of Jean-Michel St. Victor. Fred probably does not consider himself a composer, but he certainly can hold his own.
As you listen to those CDs, you will certainly appreciate the care with which Fred Paul “ explores fresh grooves with the most accomplished veteran and young musicians of the genre…”, as James Farber, the recording engineer says in the liner notes. The mixing is just excellent and enhances greatly the music. All in all, kudos to Fred Paul who continues to work tirelessly for the promotion of Haitian culture through its music.
Serge Bellegarde for Windows on Haiti – August 2019
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