By Serge Bellegarde
This is the season when some of us are always scrambling at the last minute to find a gift for a loved one. What about a gift of music, and more precisely, a nice Haitian CD? There is quite a choice and I have tried, albeit with difficulty, to select ten of the best Haitian CDs for 2000. It was not easy. The list is entirely subjective, reflects my personal taste and is not at all exclusive. It is my hope that it will help you narrow your choices and save you some agonizing moments.
If you like Rasin Jazz, you will love these three CDs:
- Kilti Chòk is comprised of Haitian musicians and a Japanese piano player. This is an excellent album of Jazz based on Haitian Rasin Music. The group received rave reviews internationally. You will hear some wonderful guitar, piano, conga and bass work. This is a must in any collection.
- Mozayik is another gem of a CD. These young and talented artists are based in New York. Their first album was extremely well received, and for good reason. The music is crisp, the melodies beautiful. This is jazz firmly grounded in Haitian Rasin Music. Some interpretations of Haitian traditional songs are out of this world. Add this CD to your collection.
- Bémol Jean Telfort's CD, The good news is the bad news was wrong is the most recent release by a Haitian guitarist in 2000. It is excellent. I find that as far as his style is concerned, Bémol Telfort has remained the closest to two guitarists who obviously have been his main mentors: Wes Montgomery and to a lesser extent George Benson. Like the others, he blends his music with a Haitian Rasin beat. He is an impressive guitarist who plays exquisite music.
Among women artists, I chose these two:
- Emeline Michel's Cordes et âmes marks a return to the roots for Emeline. It is a wonderful CD that underscores the richness of her voice. The lyrics are out of this world. I highly recommend it as a gift.
- Lody Auguste's Si m pa rele is a strong reminder of the social and political struggle of the Haitian people. This is committed music at its best, a genre that is unfortunately too absent in Haitian music these days in my opinion. . Strongly supported by musicians like Eddy Prophète, Welmyr Jean-Pierre, Didier Labossière and many others, this is a complete package of excellent arrangements and meaningful lyrics. A must for your collection.
- Djazz la and Action is an excellent Konpa CD. Made up of excellent musicians like Shedly Abraham, Yves Albert Abel, Edy Brisseaux, Ralph Conde and so many others, this is a solid Konpa CD. I like the concept of each series of song separated by brief interludes. It's a very entertaining album and most welcome in this season of parties.
- Konpa Gold is a nice compilation of different artists. For someone, such as a foreigner, who would like to have a sampler of varied Konpa styles, this CD is a good choice.
- Haitiando, Vol. 1, one of the most original CDs to come out in 2000 is a magnificent blend of Haitian traditional songs played on Cuban rhythms, thus cementing the strong cultural bonds between our two people. Eddy Prophète, Boulo Valcourt and various Cuban musicians join forces for your enjoyment and what a wonderful job they did! By the way, Vol. 2 just came out and you might want to give the set as a gift.
- Edy François' Zinga is one of the best Rasin CD releases in the year 2000. It had been a while since he put out anything and this CD shows that he has not lost a beat. The music is infectious and the lyrics show how frustrated he is about social and political inequities in Haiti. Edy François's CD is a valuable addition to your collection.
- Réginald Policard's Ki sa nou ye? is a mixture of ballads, soft jazz and Konpa Dirèk. Policard is one of my favorite Haitian artists and this CD contains exquisite music and lyrics. The arrangements are superb, and the mixing excellent.
I am confident that anyone of those CDs should facilitate your choice of gifts this holiday season. They definitely warrant a trip to your closest CD supplier. Good luck and my best wishes for the New Year!
December 2000 Windows on Haiti