It had been a couple of years since this group had released a new CD and I for one, had thought that maybe it had disbanded, as it happens with so many Haitian groups after a few successful CDs. Not at all , says Jean Zéphyr, the very active impresario of the famous group Strings. Constantly on the move and always seeking ways to promote the group, Zéphyr says that, contrary to what one might have thought, Maestro Jacky Ambroise and Strings were always busy, performing here and there in the Miami area, traveling to jazz festivals like in Saint-Lucia and so on. In fact, he adds, Strings' latest release, Jacky and Strings – New Era , was in the works for the last year or so, being reworked and refined. You have here the results.
The sound is different, in the sense that what Jacky Ambroise has done here is to provide a nice mix of the Strings sound with Reggaeton; Konpa; rap, latin style; Soca and Brazilian Samba. The result is very entertaining. You can here it right from the first tune. Jacky and Strings show the different variations on the same basic rythm and he nicely blends everything in a highly entertaining sound. It is interesting to note that he is supported by a nice cast of latino musicians such as , among others, Juan Salazar, Javier Mendoza, Dennis Nieves, Robert Obregon, as well as Haitian musicians Arus Joseph and Eddy François and the famous American drummer Jimmy Daniel. As you listen to the CD, all these musicians feel and sound perfectly at ease with each other. Jacky even has some of the latino musicians speak in Haitian kreyòl.
While the typical Strings sound has been modified on this CD, the unmistakable style of Jacky Ambroise's acoustic guitar remains as attractive as before. His play is crisp, harmonious, accurate and at times quite lyrical. Tune No. 7, Madre Querida, is a wonderful ballad written by Jacky Ambroise and Roberto Obregon. Jacky's touch on the guitar contributes to enhancing the sensitivity of the lyrics and the voice of the singer which curiously reminds me of the great Chilean singer Victor Jara, assassinated by Chilean Dictator Pinochet in 1973. It is one of my favorite on the CD.
Tune No. 6 , Yanvalooh, was written by Jacky Ambroise and Eddy François, a musician I consider as one of the best in Haitian Roots music and one of the earliest members of Boukman Eksperyans. As the title indicates, this song is played on a riveting yanvalooh beat and it is a pleasure to listen to the characteristically raspy voice of Eddy François on vocals. Arus Joseph on percussions is in full form on this one.
And speaking of lyricism, of feeling and of harmony, nowhere is this more apparent than on the last tune on the CD entitled Father and Son, written by Jacky Ambroise and his 16-year old son Jacques Olivier, a talented and very promising guitar player. Like Father, like son. What a beautiful melody!. Jacky is not just playing the guitar in this song, he is expressing his love and care for his son through his guitar. He weaves through some of the most beautiful chords, “speaking” his notes ever so softly. This is some piece of music! Underneath, the violin and the piano provide a beautiful background to the melody. While I like all the songs on the album, I must say that this one is probably my favorite, you know, the type of song that you listen to over and over again, because each time, it brings something out of you….
As I said earlier, it had been a while since we had heard of Strings, but I guess the wait was well worth it. I find Jacky Ambroise and Strings – New Era a very entertaining album that you should add to your Strings collection. The mixing is very good, the music is nice and the musicians provide excellent support to Jacky and his guitar. You will not tire of listening to it, I guarantee you. So hurry and add it to you record collection.
Help stop Haitian CD piracy, it is bad for everyone
Serge Bellegarde, for Windows on Haiti, September 2007
1 post • Page 1 of 1