If anyone had any doubt, it is evident that Jean H. Richard, alias Ritchie is a man on a mission, a mission to elevate Konpa Dirèk to its highest level. Witness the introduction to his newest release, Ritchie – 10 ans plus tard. He asks his child if he knows who Ulrich Pierre-Louis; he does not know. Yet, when asked if he knows who Michael Jackson is, the child lights up and become enthousiastic: Michael Jackson, yes! That is why Ritchie tells his fellow musicians that there is a whole lot of work left to do to bridge the gap. He certainly contributes to that goal with his newest CD.
Whether he plays with his group, Zenglen, or whether the CD is under his name, Ritchie remains a force for progress in the evolution of Konpa. His music is full of purpose, it is entertaining; it is creative. Apart from the excellent crew from Zenglen, Ritchie is backed by an excellent cast of Konpa heavyweights who contributed to this project. We find among them Loubert Chancy, Isnard Douby, Dadou Pasquet, Gabriel Laporte, Dadou Pasquet, Shedley Abraham, Yves Abel, Stanley Toussaint and so many more. The music is very well put together and reflects Ritchie's maturity and sense of creativity. Listen for example to tune No. 5, Cap-Haitien, je t'aime, a song that will particularly please inhabitants of the city of Henri Christophe. Guitarist Sanders Solon does a wonderful job. The brass section throughout the CD is just excellent and plays some wonderful lines. Tune No. 6, Gen moun li bay, is a perfect example. Tune No. 9, Linite, is one my favorites on the CD. Top Alderman and Dadou Pasquet surpass themselves. The lyrics show how deep and thoughtful Ritchie's writing can be. Tune No. 11, The Truth is a real revelation and offers another glimpse of Ritchie's musical complexcity. A mix of funk, jazz and Haitian folkloric beat, the song seems to be a nice synthesis of Ritchie's musical mind, a mind that is open, inquisitive and creative. The song reminds me a lot of the famous "Jazz Crusaders" and the late pianist Joe Zwazinul.
And speaking of versatility, Ritchie's talent as a composer and arranger is on display once more on this CD. Indeed, of the 12 songs on the album, 8 were written by him, and the rest arranged by him. That is impressive! You can hear how much care he gives to his work. Moreover, this attention to details in the songs do not cover only the melody, but the lyrics as well. They are most meaningful. This is an aspect that many konpa groups need to work on.
Ritchie's CD is dedicated to the memory of the late great Maestro of the Orchestre Septentrional, Ulrick Pierre-Louis. In his own way, in accordance with his own feelings and in his own style, Ritchie could not pay a better tribute to this legendary musician. As far as I know, he is the first Konpa artist to actually dedicate a CD to the memory of Ulrick Pierre-Louis who only a few months ago passed away. I expect that in the coming year, there will many more tributes of that nature from Haitian artists of all stripes.
This CD is another hit from Ritchie to hit the market. The mixing is very good and it is most entertaining. You will enjoy it from the first song to the last. Do not hesitate to add it to your collection.
Help fight Haitian CD piracy, it is bad for everyone.
Serge Bellegarde for Windows on Haiti, January 2010
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