Chronique musicale 156
It has been quite a few years since Haiti lost an artist who can rightfully be considered a national treasure: Guy Durosier. While he left a big void which will be difficult, if not impossible to fill, the vast discography he left us will always remain a great source of inspiration for many Haitian artists. In that respect, I dare say that in my view, if there is a Haitian singer who I consider a worthy heir to Guy Durosier, I would say that Jean-Claude Eugène is the one. A veteran of the Haitian musical scene, Jean-Claude Eugène 's most recent CD entitled "Réflexion" , continues the excellent work he has been doing with his previous CDs. "Réflexion" shows the singer at his best, combining powerful lyrics and melodies with excellent arrangements and harmony, all blending beautifully to produce a beautiful sound.
All 14 songs on the CD have been written by Jean-Claude Eugène, which makes him quite a composer. And not a boring one at that! Indeed, there is something for everyone on this CD: ballad, roots, calypso, konpa, jazz, traditional Haitian meringue, bolero etc.
The introduction of the CD which opens with the tune , "Si w te konnen", sets the tone for a wonderful musical experience. Saxophonist Courtney Nero melodic lines introduces the ballad which later turns into a nice , quiet konpa. Such harmony is found throughout the album. Tune no. 3, "Ma ville" is another example of a beautiful, lyrical ballad on the Cd, just one example among many in which Eugène shows how he can make you feel what he is singing. From my own perspetive, Guy Durosier is the only other Haitian singer who used to sing like this.
Along with singers like Beethovah Obas, Emmeline Michel, Belo and a few others, Jean-Claude's lyrics are among the best. Not a single word wasted, not a phrase without meaning. Whether he sings about love, Haiti or the tribulations of his fellow citizens, Jean-Claude Eugène's lyrics are as important as the melody or the musical arrangements, unlike too many Haitian artists whose lyrics seem to be totally secondary to their music. Eugène's images can be as powerful as they are sensitive. How much more romantic can this passage be? " If you knew, when I am dreaming of you, I see you like a mirage which never ends, a bouquet that never fades...... a flower hidden among wild vegetation which makes my heart jump and makes me shudder..... " (In tune No. 1 : Si'w te konnen"). Whatever the genre, a ballad "Ma Ville", a lament "Mizerikòd, Kote ou ye?", a calypso (Gina, won't you be..?"; a rara (Bientôt j'irai") , or any other tune on the album, this is the same care, harmonious arrangements and meaningful lyrics which characterize the music of Jean-Claude Eugène and make it such a joy to listen to.
I am at a loss as to which song I would put a special emphasis on. They all sound so nice! The richness of the CD resides precisely in that variety which makes you anticipate what is coming next. Listen for example to tune no. 8, "La priyè Manman - a Mother's prayer", played on a classic bolero beat; tune no. 7, "Bientôt j'irai - I will go soon", a tribute to Haiti, played on a rara beat; or tune no. 9 "Mizerikòd", which a find a masterpiece inspired no doubt by the earthquake which Haiti in 2010. Listen to the poignancy of the lyrics and the turns of phrase that Jean-Claude Eugène uses to express the tragedy. The haunting sound in the introduction superbly combines with the lyrics to create this atmosphere as the music builds to a crescendo and the lyrics describe what happened, thanks to Jean-Claude's powerful images.
Of particular note on the Cd is a remake of Jean-Claude's signature song, "Cecilia". What a nice arrangement! The lyrics of this song remain as actual as when Jean-Claude first wrote them more than 10 years ago. Guitarist Dener Céide's guitar solo is incredibly sensitive, delicate and melodic! Tune no. 12 "Yo" is played on a classic meringue beat of old. What a nice touch! This song will bring you back to the good old time, especially with Calvin Jones' melodious lines on his mute trumpet.
Another factor contributing to the excellence of this CD was, without any doubt, is the superb cast of musicians supporting Jean-Claude. Edmond Charles, Jean-Claude's pianist, along with notables as bassist Bobby Raymond, Fritzgerald Aubin, guitarist Dener Céide, percussionist Serge Decius and a whole array of other musicians of Haitian and non-Haitian descent, combine to provide wonderful support to Jean-Claude. This is a formula for excellence. The mixing is excellent, the musicians feel and sound well together.
14 songs on a CD, all sounding very good to your ear! Is it Jean-Claude Eugène's best album so far? I tend to say yes. This does not mean that the previous ones were not good, but as with any serious artist, Jean-Claude's work gets better with each new CD, shows constant creativity high musicianship. If you do not have this CD in your collection, it is high time you make a dash to your record store and buy your copy. You will be in for a real treat!
Help stop Haitian CD piracy; this is bad for everyone!
Sispann vann kopi Cd ayisyen yo! Achte orijinal la pito pou nou ka ede mizisyen yo!
Serge Bellegarde for Windows on Haiti - March 2012