Jean Caze, Jazz Trumpeter extraordinaire
He is not a household name among Haitians, at least, not yet; but I think that is not too far down the road, if it has not happened already. I am speaking of this young, dynamic, fantastic Haitian trumpet player called Jean Caze. To tell you the truth, I did not about him until I saw his CD on a Haitian website, trumpet in hands and blowing. My first decision was of course to buy the CD and what I sensed was totally correct. I may have been late “discovering”him, (the CD was released in August 2006), but I have been thoroughly enjoying his CD and nothing made me happier than when I learnt, on a Haitian radio station, that Jean Caze had been selected to participate in the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Trumpet Competition. Boy! It did not take him long to climb so many steps to reach, if those who are familiar with these activities know what I am talking about.
Those who follow jazz are surely aware that some of the greatest new jazz musicians have participated in these contexts: Marcus Roberts, Terence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove and so many more. To give you an idea o what I am talking about, this year, the members of he jury awarding the prizes were: Herb Alpert, Terence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove, Hugh Masekela, Don Sickler and Clark Terry, some of the most prestigious trumpet players around. So Jean Caze came in second place, receiving a prize of $10 000. That gives you an idea of how far he reached and what kind of company he is with.
The CD, entitled: Jean Caze - Miami Jazz Scene , opens with a beautiful composition by Jean Caze entitled: Haitian Peace Song. Caze, playing a muted trumpet does a magnificent job of translating his thought and communicating with to us through his trumpet. With reason, he is being compared to Miles Davis and that is quite a compliment. His approach does remind Miles Davis, and also I also hear something from the great jazz trumpet player Nat Adderley. Caze's sound is quite melodious, lyrical, reflecting at times a certain melancholy. These feelings are in evidence in “Haitian Peace song”, or in Tune No. 4, “Aint nuthin wrong”, or Tune No. 3, “Love, Love”. Tune No. 6 is another beautiful song which Caze approaches with such sensitivity, caressing every note on his trumpet. His solo is simply exquisite. The last tune on the CD is the song made famous by the Duke Ellington Orchestra: “Caravan”. This song has been recorded by countless jazz artists throughout the years, but as far as I know, no one had given it the kind of treatment that Caze does on his album. It is mind blowing. Just when you thought that everything possible had been done with the song, in comes Caze, with a mix of funk, jazz fusion that would please Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, two key authors of the so-called Jazz fusion. As you listen to the introduction, you are constantly wondering where Caze is going and how he will introduce the melody. This is an example of how complex and innovative he can be in his music, not being confined in one genre or another. It is therefore no wonder that he reached so high in the Thelonious Monk Competition. Caze is also quite a composer, having written 8 of the 9 tunes on the album.
Jean Caze is one more name to be added to the Haitian Jazz Hall of fame whose list is slowly, but surely growing. For the jazz lovers in general, and Haitian jazz in particular, you are in for a treat, believe. Jean Caze's style is very accessible and after this great performance at the Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition, he is the man to be watched, for, if history is our guide, he is on the same path as the likes of Terence Blanchard, Wynston Marsalis, Roy Hargrove and so on. More power to him indeed!
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