In the liner notes of his latest release entitled “Momentum”, the great Haitian jazz pianist Réginald Policard decides to go the scientific route. We can read the following: “Momentum is a corner stone concept in physics..” or “To calculate the momentum of a moving object, multiply the mass of the object times its velocity….” All that sounds very nice, if you are like, that is not to knowledgeable in physics, I have a much simpler formula, a much more accessible language to calculate momentum when it comes to Réginald Policard: excellence+creativity+harmony= beautiful music. That is, when you are using the word momentum in its familiar usage, not in a physics context. And when you do, you will agree with me that this CD is a real treat. We have come to expect nothing less from Réginald Policard.
On this CD, Réginald has surrounded himself with a formidable array o Haitian and non-Haitian musicians, like trumpeter Jean Caze, bassist Richard Barbot, sax player David Fernandez, guitarist Makarios Césaire, drummers Obed Calvaire and Jimmy Daniel and many others who do an incredible job. The opening song entitled “2 p.m.” was written by Policard as a tribute to American guitarist extraordinaire Pat Metheny. Notice the title written in twitter language by Policard. It is a wonderful melody which Metheny would be happy to listen to. I sure hope he gets to do so. I love the bass structure and the brass arrangements are superb. A very pleasant surprise on the CD is tune No. 2 “My funny Valentine”, a classic so aptly played by Miles Davis. I certainly was not expecting this kind of arrangement by Policard. Played on a soft, wonderful konpa beat, the song acquires a whole new dimension, thanks to the excellent performance of vocalist Nicole Henry. What a pleasant tone of voice! She infuses such sensitivity in the song that you never get tired of listening to it. The song is greatly enhanced by Jean Caze whose solo is remarkable for its lyricism. It is almost like he is caressing every note he blows, creating a beautiful harmony. Listen to how Policard's piano solo naturally fits into Caze's in the most harmonious manner. This is just pleasing to the ears.
Once more, in tune No. 3 “Always”, Policard shows how sensitive and lyrical he can be. His touch on the piano is ever so soft as he weaves through this beautifully haunting melody. Guitarist Aaron Lebos' solo is most sensitive, sensuous and delicate. Like walking on eggs. This is one of the prettiest tune on the album.
It is noteworthy to mention the dynamic treatment Policard gave to tune No. 5, “Twa fey”, a Haitian classic. There has been so many arrangements of this tune that it takes some creativity to come up with something so original as what Policard did. The bass comes in on a furious beat, then the brass. The drummer provides excellent support as the song is played on a yanvalou beat. This kind of arrangement reminds me of the famous bass player Charlie Haden.
Jan 12, 2010 will remain forever engraved in our collective memory and since that date, every musician has made it a point to pay tribute to our brothers and sisters who perished in the earthquake. Tune no. 6. “Pa dim” is Policard's hommage, and a worthy one. Combining with trumpeter Caze, Policard wrote a soulful song reflecting the state of mind of many. The lyrics, sung by Jeff Policard, are as poignant as they are full of imagery. The tune is short, as to reflect the brief, yet devastating 35 seconds of destruction that hit Haiti that fateful day.
The title tune “Momentum” is vintage Réginald Policard: full of vigor, many twists and turns, a melody tightly woven. That is momentum indeed!
A nice surprise on the CD is Armando Manzanero's composition so popular in Haiti and entitled “Mia”. Policard's arrangement gives it new life and David Fernandez's sax is quite inspiring.
As I suggested at the beginning of this Chronique, do not let yourself be “intimidated” by the explanation given in the CD liner notes of the word “momentum”. If anything, it should make you more curious to listen to it and then you will discover that momentum is on Réginald's side, a momentum that leads him to constantly produce high quality material. This CD is just excellent and the more you listen to it, the better you like it. The mixing is very good, the music is relaxing, the musicians are superb. All that constitute the perfect mix for quality work. If you have not yet bought your copy, you are really missing quite a treat, I can assure you!
Help stop Haitian CD piracy, it is bad for everyone
Serge Bellegarde, for Windows on Haiti - February 2011
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