It has been a quite a long time since I wrote the last Chronique musicale and while I had not planned for that to happen, some unforeseen circumstances though are to blame. In any case if many are still recovering from the tragedy of February 2004 and its consequences that occurred in Haiti , the situation did not keep Haitian artists from keeping up their production, albeit at a slower pace. While our intellectuals turned politicians were busy messing up the country even more than it already is, a number of excellent Cds were released towards the end of the 2003 and beginning of 2004.
I will start with the long awaited fourth CD by Strings, Coconut Grove. If you have not listened to it yet, you have really been missing something. Indeed, this CD marks the long anticipated debut of the young and talented singer Melissa Dauphin with the group. She is quite a breath of fresh
air in Strings. She has a beautiful, accurate and charming voice and adds wonderful variety to the Strings sounds. One should remember that even if in the past, Strings used to have some chorus, this time, with the addition of Ms Dauphin, there are some songs with real lyrics, and this adds some real variety to the CD. The melodic approach is necessarily different . In some of the songs, Strings seems to be moving toward plain Konpa dirèk, yet, Maestro Jacky Ambroise and his musicians stop just short by modifying the structure of the songs. One should also note the addition of the flute wonderfully played by Gerardo Peña, particularly in Tune No. 5, a medley of the music of Ulrick Pierre-Louis and Rafael Hernandez. That is sweet music.
You will also hear an interesting interpretation of the famous tune by Jean-Claude Martineau ( alias Koralen), Lumane Casimir. Melissa Dauphin, equally at ease when she sings in Spanish, gives a very nice and harmonious rendition of Bobby Capó’s Piel Canela, a tune
ever so popular and immortal in Haiti. Tune No. 9, Enseña me, which she composes, is also a very nice song.
All in all, if you like Strings, this new Cd is right up your alley. If you were beginning to find that Strings always sounded the same, well, you are in for quite a surprise, because this Cd is not only a nice one for dancing, but it offers just what you might have been wishing for: more variety and Melissa Dauphin is a good reason for that. I could not tell you which tune I like best. They all sound good and that is one more reason why you should add this Cd to your collection of Strings.
Serge Bellegarde for
Windows on Haiti, May 2004