Chronique musicale 103
Many Haitians, particularly those of the older generation, will surely remember the year 1960, more specifically August 1960, when this musical genius, saxophonist Wébert Sicot created his famous Ensemble Cadence Rampas (sick), which soon after became Ensemble Wébert Sicot. What remains memorable was the period of 7 to 10 years following this event. Indeed, Haitians fans from all ages witnessed a ferocious rivalry between Ensemble Wébert Sicot and the other powerhouse of the time which had already taken over the Haitian public: the musical group of Maestro Nemours Jean-Baptiste. The polemic could be at times soft, or outright very biting. Meanwhile, while fans of all ages were arguing, Wébert Sicot and Nemours Jean-Baptiste managed to maintain their friendship till the end, carefully separating their musical feud from their personnal relationship.
While in general in Haiti, when people talk about Konpa Dirèk, only one name comes to mind, Nemours Jean-Baptiste, it is time to recognize that Wébert Sicot also played a very important role in advancing Haiti's music, if only because of the fierce rivalry. Indeed, by attacking each other, Sicot and Jean-Baptiste were at the same time forcing themselves to work even harder to produce quality music. In that respect, I find that Wébert Sicot ‘s role has been too overlooked among those promoting Konpa Dirèk. Fortunately, during those last few years, there has been some initiative aimed at giving more recognition to Wébert Sicot's contribution to the evolution of Haitian music.
The most recent effort in this area is an excellent compilation of Ensemble Wébert Sicot's music: Hommage à Wébert Sicot: les plus grands succès du Kdans Ranpa. Indeed, the CD contains 20 tunes covering the group from the beginning of its existence. Some of these tunes are memorable: Deux guidons, Marcel Cocob, Tripotage, Ti Georges Counan, Médecine jalap, Machan'n poul and many more. Although I think other tunes could have been included, the CD offers a pretty wide variety and shows Wéber Sicot's genius as a composer, arranger and instrumentalist extraordinaire. He had an incredible dexterity on his instrument and up to this day, no one has come close to reaching his quickness on the saxophone. He may have been surpassed as an arranger and composer, there is no doubt in my mind in that respect, but as an instrumentalist, I dare say that he remains unique among Haitian musicians.
This CD compensates a little bit the neglect in which Sicot's music has been relegated, particularly in light of the celebration of 50 years of Konpa Dirèk. For, what Sicot did was to alter only the format of Konpa Dirèk, not the substance. Kdans Ranpa was nothing more that a variation on the theme of Konpa Dirèk. But this does not diminish for that matter the great impact of Wébert Sicot on Haitian music.
I like this CD precisely because it offers a pretty good sample of Sicot's music, although I hope to see the producer of this CD release a follow-up compilation soon; for Sicot left so much recorded music that such an endeavour should not prove not too difficult, save for the financial aspect of such a project. Even though I was myself a Nemours Jean-Baptiste fan , I could not help but admire Wéber Sicot and recognize that during the hot rivalry period, on more than one occasion, Sicot gave Nemours quite a lesson in music. But as I said earlier, while fans were tearing each other up, defending one or the other musical group, the 2 maestros were having a ball making more and more money. This is what you call : being smart.
So, this is a CD you should add to your collection, in a section you could label: Music retro.
Help fight Haitian CD piracy, it is bad for everyone.
For Windows on Haiti, December 2006
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