Chronique no. 22 | Chronique Index

In the previous Chronique, I reviewed a CD from Harold Faustin who, by the way participated in the Montreal Jazz Festival in Canada from July 1-11, 1999. I am bringing you this week yet another Haitian guitarist who is also leaving his mark. This album, which came out recently, is entitled: Passion Stroke and the artist : Chardavoine. You can indeed feel the passion with which Chardavoine plays. If you find that Harold Faustin's style of jazz is beyond you, then Chardavoine will probably be more accessible. His music can be classified as what is known as "soft jazz", the kind of music that you listen in an office building to help you alleviate your frustrations. Chardavoine has a very nice playing style which at times, reminds you of George Benson. You can hear how confortable he is in this genre and there are some very nice tunes on the album. He is also quite impressive as a composer. All the songs were written, produced and arranged by him. The arrangements are quite sophisticated and if you are into soft jazz, you certainly will want to add this CD to your collection of Haitian Jazz musicians.

From soft jazz to Mizik Rasin, we go to Racine Mapou de Azor. Lenord Fortuné, better known as Azor is an excellent drummer who has done a lot to enhance Mizik rasin (Roots music) in Haiti, as his CD shows. Those who follow the evolution of the music in Haiti know about the two great tendencies in Mizik Rasin in Haiti. On one hand, there are groups mixing the drums with strings instruments like the guitar, the bass, as well as the keyboard, etc (Boukman, Kanpêch, Boukan Ginen). On the other hand, there are groups like Azor who strictly use drums and other percussion instruments in their music. So what you hear on this CD are the purest forms of Mizik Rasin along with the voices. Azor shows great versality on this album. He is the band leader, he sings, he writes, he plays the drum. As you listen to the lyrics of some of the tunes, it seems that Azor is sending a message to those who speak ill of him because of his failing health. Listen for example to tunes no. 2, 4 and 7. For those who collect Mizik Rasin, this is a CD to add to your repertoire.

Going through my collection, I rediscovered Imgart Manigat's album which came out a few years ago. I do not know what he is doing these days, but he is a very dynamic singer who has played with countless Haitian bands. He obviously has been influenced by Ti Manno. His CD, Sans fatigue, is a solid konpa dirèk album. Some well known musicians are working with him, such as Tuco Bouzi, Georges Nazie, Rodrigue Alcindor and many more. The mixing is quite good, and the melodies are nice. Tune No. 2 "Fun tonight" sounds indeed very upbeat. Tune No. 7 is a nice salsa song. One of my favorite on this CD is tune No. 9, a slow melody which Manigat wrote to pay tribute to his mother. The lyrics are very touching and the melody has a kind of nostalgic tone which carries you back to memory lane. The arrangement could have been more elaborate and richer, but it is nice nevertheless. So in general, this is a good, solid konpa album worth adding to your collection.

In other news

The Group Meli Melomane gave quite a performance during its tour in the Washington area. It is a group of eight young men who were discovered in Haiti by the director Catherine Parrill while she was living in Haiti. It is a purely vocal group which sings religious songs, gospel type music and Haitian folkloric tunes On the only CD it has so far, you will find religious songs, a medley of South African tunes, some French songs and two Haitian traditional tunes. Tune No. 17 Noel Ayisyen is exceptionally nice. The group is unique in the sense that this genre is not particularly encouraged in Haiti. If you like religious songs and vocal groups, you will want to get this CD. I find that this is a good effort and these young men have a great future ahead of them. They are all studying at the University of Kansas, pursuing their musical education. Their CD is not available in the store, but you can probably obtain it at the following address:

I understand that preparations are going forward for Les Ambassadeurs's tour to Haiti. Unless there are any changes, the group is supposed to leave for Haiti around July 29. They are scheduled to play in cities like Petit-Goave, Cayes and of course Port-au-Prince, at the famous night club Djoumbala. I will keep you posted as I obtain more information.

Another juicy piece of information is what is being planned on September 19. Indeed, Eddy Prophète, Ginou Oriol and Azor are scheduled to be here in concert. This promises to be a real treat. Eddy Prophète is currently working on another CD. I had the pleasure to see him at work last week and folks, the guy is really good at the piano. Whether it's classical music, jazz, Brazilian music, traditional music, he is equally at ease. Mark this date on your calendar right now. So I will keep you posted as to the site and date of the event.

Finally, you will notice in the table that I include the label and the CD No. for easy reference for purchase, thanks to a suggestion from a reader of the Chronique. Indeed, this should facilitate those who may want to buy the CDs I review.

Serge Bellegarde