After a rather unusually long hiatus, I am resuming the Chronique musicale with a bang, particularly for those who enjoy Haitian jazz. Some months ago, I received the newest work by the wonderful Haitian jazz pianist Reginald Policard entitled : “Live in Haiti”. Yes, there is nothing more enjoyable than to see, in this case, to hear jazz musicians liberated from the constraints of a recording studio. That is what happened with this CD.
The songs themselves are not new, but they are given new life by the composer, arranger and wonderful pianist who is solidly supported by a great cast of musicians like the incredible Jean Caze on trumpet and flugel horn, Harvel Nakundi on drums and Addi Lafosse and Richard Barbot (on tune No. 6) on bass. The musicians are fully in tune with each other and the music unfolds flawlessly, like a well-oiled machine. All the songs were composed by Reginald Policard and we have the opportunity once more to appreciate the formidable background of this musician. What you get is a series of beautifully arranged and executed melodies which, at times, can be pretty sophisticated.
Policard's shows his technical assurance, coupled with plenty of emotional feelings; at times he is profoundly lyrical or romantic, like in “Boarding Pass “, “Changing Mood” or “Détour”, tunes taken from his previous albums. Policard shows his soft side in these haunting melodies. The notes flow like the water in a waterfall, in harmonious and intricate chords. In other songs, he can be as hard hitting. Listen for example to tunes like “Yanvalou Blue” or “It's up to you”. His free-flowing solos are dizzying.
The new treatment of these songs is solidly enhanced by the incredible Haitian trumpeter Jean Caze who balances his play with incredible technique and sensitivity. The interplay between him and Policard is a wonderful mix. He plays with emotion, is accurate and not overwhelming. It is a real joy to listen to him. His approach to his instrument is that of a pro who measures up to any of the well-established names, notably the great Miles Davis, one of his mentors. For example, I love the way he treats one of my favorite compositions by Policard : Détour, a nice soft, reflexive and at the same time funky piece which is profoundly lyrical. His play evokes all kind of emotions, just like Mile sDavis does. I could go one and mention the others tunes, but, it is better for you get the CD , listen and discover for yourselves. You are in for a treat! And underneath all this, is the formidable rhythmic support provided by bass player Addi Lafosse and drummer Harvel Nakundi. What a team! Lafosse and Nakundi keep their pace, playing tightly with Policard and Caze, in perfect symbiosis. You are never distracted by their play, yet they fill in every small interval in excellent timing. They do not do a whole lot of solos, but in the few songs they intervene, their mark is evident. I love their approach in songs like tune No. 4 “It's up to you”, a wonderful song in the tradition of jazz pianist Chick Correa. Drummer Nakundi is just superb in directing traffic. You can feel them just having fun.
The whole album is an excellent showcase of what Haitian jazz has to offer. The musicians are solid; the live recording is so well done that you would never guess that this is not a studio. The mixing by Patrick Audant and Réginald Policard is just superb. If you are into jazz, this is a mandatory addition to your jazz collection, it is that good!
Help fight Haitian CD piracy, it is bad for everyone
Serge Bellegarde for Windows on Haiti, August 2010
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