It is always with great anticipation that I await the newest release by the band whose quite bold motto is : La Seule Différence! – The only difference ! Indeed, Magnum Band has been and continues to be a musical group with an unmistakable identity among Haitian bands. And add to that a remarkably high and constant quality of the brand of Konpa it plays. Its latest CD entitled “Sakalakawè” continues this tradition of excellence in konpa.
As it happens with Magnum Band, at least from my own personal perspective, it is on the second or third audition that the music grows on you and that you keep discovering new nuances here and there in the music. And for a good reason. Everyone knows how good an arranger and composer Maestro André Dadou Pasquet is. His arrangements are subtle, tasteful; he uses some of the prettiest chords I have ever heard in konpa. Along with his brother on drums, Claude Tico Pasquet, they have been steering the group masterfully while maintaining the identity of the group no matter how many new musicians are brought in. This time, the traditionally solid brass section is enriched by the one and only legendary trumpet player André Déjean. What and addition!. Along with long time Magnum arranger, saxophone player Paul Hennegan who does not need any introduction, trombone player Jeff Quebec, saxophone player François Chambert and other trumpet player Eric Poirier, the brass section is smoking, perfectly blending with the Magnum sound. You can listen to those beautiful lines throughout the CD. Keyboardists David Lacombe and Milot Eliassaint, two new names in the line-up, do an excellent job of supporting the music. I just love to listen to very unique way Tico Pasquet’makes his off-tempo breaks on the drums when you least expect them. It is no wonder that his brother says that he makes the difference.
Typical of Dadou Pasquet is his love for medleys of those nice American ballads. Tune No. 3 “Medley toi et moi” showcases this talent. Even though those melodies go back many years, Dadou makes them sound brand new with his beautiful arrangements. Another tune to be noted is No. 8, “Montre m li”. Written by Reynold Philippe and arranged by Tico Pasquet, it deals with the perennial twin problem in Haiti of literacy and the kreyòl language, the real background problem being our educational system that needs such profound revision!. Played on a classic konpa beat, this tune is a serious appeal to the conscience of every Haitian, and most of all to that of its leaders and the educated class which have the power to make a real difference. Dadou Pasquet goes real funky in tune No. 9, Magnum Funk. A little of blues, a bit of jazz, some beautiful brass line, all that on a konpa background and there you have some very nice harmony arranged by saxophone player Paul Hennegan. This is vintage Magnum Band.
The fans of Magnum Band will be quite happy with this new release. The music is crisp as usual. Dadou Pasquet’s velvety voice is as vibrant and smooth as ever. The mixing is very good as it is always the case with the group. The lyrics are well written, and that is another trademark of this group. That is something that certainly could be followed by some other groups whose lyrics are atrocious at times. If you have not yet done so, this CD warrants a trip to your record store, you will not regret it.
Help fight Haitian CD piracy. It is bad for everyone.
Serge Bellegarde for Windows on Haiti – December 2009