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#2599: Shock or syncretism? A Haitian-Japanese happening! (fwd)

From: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>

My special thanks to a Corbett list member, Mihoko Tsunetomi from the
faraway land of Japan, but a die-hard Haiti enthusiast, who forwarded the
"Culture Shock" CD to Windows on Haiti for its Chronique Musicale (or CD
Reviews).  The music was thoroughly enjoyable.  Mihoko herself helped in the
multi-language presentation of the CD in Kreyol (or Haitian Creole), French,
English, and of course Japanese.  It should be noted that Marcel Duret, the
Haitian ambassador to Japan, has been for some time heavily involved in the
promotion of Haitian Culture in Japan, through Haitian Art exhibits, art
book publications, and musical happenings, and doing so through private
fund-raising efforts and his own contributions, rather than relying on
public expenditures.  He should be commended for his diffusion of Haiti's
culture and his leadership example to other public agencies.

Mr. Duret, Windows on Haiti salutes your efforts.  Mihoko, for your
sisterhood to Haiti, and your no-nonsense advice you have provided on the
Corbett forum, we thank you as well.

What follows is a review of "KILTI CHOK -- Culture Choc -- Culture Shock".

Shock or syncretism? A Haitian-Japanese happening!
We are all familiar with this truism : the language of music is universal .
If one had any doubt about this, you just have to listen to the CD
Kilti-Chòk * Culture-Choc * Culture-Shock, the latest musical collaboration
between Haiti and Japan. Folks, you have to listen to this CD recorded live
at Seifukan Hall in Saitama, Japan. Michiko Tatsuno, the pianist, is a
Japanese musician in the purest tradition of classical jazz and the
musicians, Jimmy Jean-Félix (guitar), conga player Gaston Jean-Baptiste
"Bonga" (Haitian drum with cord), Jean-Daniel Beaubrun (bass) ,
Francois -Sergo Décius (conga) are Haitian in the purest tradition of
Haitian Roots music (Rasin) . The result is Rasin-Jazz in its purest form
and I already consider it a classic in this genre. I must confess I had not
heard of Jimmy Jean-Félix before and what a good guitarist! From time to
time, I hear shade of John McLaughlin or of the late Charlie Byrd in his

The treat starts right with the first tune Gede Nibo composed by
Jean-Baptiste. I found it very thoughtful that the producers took the time
to indicate for each song the rhythm on which it is played, as well as the
origin of the song. Gede Nibo played on a "raboday-rara" beat, it is a very
infectious melody . Listen to the bass line and the different improvisations
and you do not know if you should listen or get up and dance. In those
cases, you just rock in place, just like the audience must have done. The
pianist reminds me sometimes of Chick Corea. Listen to the way Jean-Félix
introduces his guitar solo. Haitians will recognize in his solo the conga
lines that he translates into notes on his guitar, while underneath , the
conga provides wonderful support to the music.

I think that tune No. 2 Koute'm is probably my favorite tune on the album.
(I say probably because every time I listen to the CD, I seem to change my
mind as to which one is better). But this particular song is played with
such lyricism! Listen to the interaction between the guitar and the piano,
it's just exquisite. And the rhythm session is right on the money. It seems
that Jean-Daniel Beaubrun is "talking" with the bass to the other musicians
and that makes beautiful sound. The conga solo toward the end fits like a

The improvisations on Tune No. 4 Minis Azaka showcases the creativity of
pianist Michiko Tatsuno and frankly, I did not know there was so much hidden
in this song. My hats off to this musician whose first trip to Haiti was in
August 1999!. Listen to how she moves so freely through the song and the
kind of work she does with her left hand on the piano. Her only composition
on the CD entitled Souvenir d'Haiti is a nice, lighthearted melody which I
found conveys well the nice time she must have had there. I am sure she must
have discovered like many before her that all is not negative in Haiti. It
is played on a Haitian Kongo beat. Jean-Félix playing the acoustic guitar on
that tune definitely reminds me of Charlie Byrd. His solo is just melodious.
And what about the roots interpretation of Jerome Kern's classic All the
things you are. This shows how versatile these musicians are and how rich
Haitian Rasin music can be. The bass line on this song is so nice.

You probably realize by now that I am having a hard time deciding which song
is really the best on the album, particularly after you listen to the very
nostalgic Konplent peyizan (tune No.7) highlighting Tatsuno's piano and
Jean-Félix's guitar. This is just fine music and my only criticism is that
it was just too short. How about Jean-Félix's composition Kouman na fè on a
"Djakata" beat.

The last tune Ayiti cheri is a real conversation on the conga and the guy
makes the conga talks, really. Which tune is the best? Well let us say that
you have an album where you can literally choose any one of the 9 tunes and
thoroughly enjoy it. I would like to see this Haitian-Japanese group work on
another album in the same vein, exploring our roots even more. If you like
jazz, there is more than enough to satisfy you; if you like Haitian Roots
music, you will love it; if you want to hear what Rasin-Jazz should sound
like, you have an excellence sample with this CD. My hats off to the dynamic
Haitian Ambassador in Japan, M. Marcel Duret , who has been playing an
instrumental role in bringing together Haitian and Japanese musicians,
bridging cultural gaps among the two people. What better ways to do it than
through music! One final advice: go buy this CD by any means you can, it is
worth it... Enjoy!

Serge Bellegarde
For Windows on Haiti
Copyright © March 2000 Windows on Haiti

Guy S. Antoine
Look thru & Imagine!