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24271: Black: Issa El Saieh dies (fwd)

From: john black <johnmackenzieblack@yahoo.com>

In Memoriam ISSA  EL SAIEH  1919-2005
I recieved this from ArtMedia Haiti and haven't seen
it posted here yet so thought I would forward it.

My favorite memory of Issa is asking about a certain
piece of art and hearing him start the sales process
with a big, welcoming smile and "Oh, you have a VERY
good eye!" I didn't see him often enough that he would
remember me. So, sometimes it was "Oh, you must have
had a VERY good year. Every time he was a complete
delight. I don't collect the kinds of things he sold,
but I went to see what he was promoting and, in more
recent years, just to see him - the way visitors to
Paris see the Eiffel Tower.

John Black


February 22nd 1919 – February 2nd  2005.

A Haitian National Treasure Lost.

Issa El Saieh, musician and art collector, passed away
on February 2nd
at "L'Hopital du Canape -Vert " in Port-au-Prince. He
was three weeks
away from celebrating his 86th birthday.

Issa was born in Haiti to Palestinian parents. Concern
for his
education they sent him to the United States at the
age of nine. His passion
for music started very early. He played the clarinet
for his school band.
As a young man he traveled the world. An avid and
talented musician,
Issa became a master on the clarinet and saxophone,
collaborating with
international icons such as the Cuban pianist Bebo
Valdes, the American
jazz pianist Billy taylor and others.

Known locally as “Maestro”, Issa’s musical career
first received
recognition in the 1940’s and over the decade’s his
influence and popularity
grew to eventually be named in 1998 as One of the Five
Giants of
Haitian Music, when he was honored at New York’s
Lincoln Center.

Ahead of his time, Issa was the first musician to
merge Haitian
traditional music with modern instrumentation. Through
doing so, he influenced
generations of Haitian musicians to come after him and
paved the way
for bands like Boukman Eksperyans or RAM to name just
a few.

In the 1960's Issa El Saieh turned the page on his
professional musical
career and delved into Haitian Art, becoming one of
the nation’s first
dealers. Just as he was influential in starting the
careers of many
Haitian musicians, Issa’s hand was behind the
beginning of many local
Gesner Armand, Andre Pierre, Jacques Enguerrand
Gourgue, the Bottex
brothers, Sisson Blanchard, Jacques Chery, Gabriel
Alix,  Fernand Pierre,
Andre Normil, Audes Saul , St. Louis Blaise, Lafortune
Gerard and many
more, were all encouraged and nurtured by Issa’s
passion and eye to
pursue a career in art. Ultimately the history of
Haitian Art is
intimately linked to Issa, and many Haitian art
galleries owe their beginnings
to him.

His generosity, sense of humor, and talent for story
telling touched
many people, drawing friends and Haitian art lovers to
his gallery where
he often held court. Although a very private man, he
had friends around
the world who treasured their time with him. It was
not unusual to meet
an eclectic group of interesting people at his lunch
table on

One of Issa's oldest and closest friends, Michel-Ange
Voltaire, passed
away just three days before him on January 29th. He
was 85 years old.
The two men practically thought of each other as
brothers and jokingly
used to say that the day one died the other would soon
follow. To those
who knew Issa, this coincidence, if it is one, adds to
the myth of the
great Maestro.

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