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Thread: Haiti Direct: Big Band, Mini Jazz and Twoubadou Sounds, 1960–1978

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    Registered User Seawall's Avatar Seawall is offline
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    Haiti Direct: Big Band, Mini Jazz and Twoubadou Sounds, 1960–1978

    A new compilation of retro Haitian music that will be released later this month. Like most of the Afro Funk, and vintage 'world music" releases, this one was compiled by Europeans for western consumption. Nevertheless, it still seems vital.


    Haiti Direct: Big Band, Mini Jazz and Twoubadou Sounds, 1960
    (Strut)


    Though just as rich, multi-faceted and deeply rooted, Haiti’s musical culture has never attained anything like the international profile enjoyed by those of its neighbours Jamaica and Cuba. Compiled by tropicalia archaeologist Hugo Mendez of the Sofrito collective, and released by archive label Strut, this two-disc collection explores trends in the island’s musical development during the 1960s and 70s.

    Given the country’s colonial history and geographic locale, it’s unsurprising that many of these tracks are intriguing hybrids, incorporating elements of Latin American, African, North American and European (especially French) music. Les Vikings’ ‘Choc Vikings’ is a great example of this, a combination of Dominican merengue rhythms and glittering West African-style guitar licks that skips along in irresistible fashion, while funk bass meets scorching riffs, jazzy Rhodes fusion and Latin cowbell on ‘Pile Ou Face’ by Les Loups Noirs.

    Some of the most compelling tracks, like those by Pierre Blain Et Orchestre Murat Pierre and Ra Ra De Léogane, are ones in which the African influence is to the fore, hinting at the ecstatic rhythms of voodoo ceremonial music. Best of all is Scorpio Universel’s unbelievably funky and exuberant stomper ‘Ti Lu Lu Pe’, a constantly mutating patchwork that’s a beautifully dizzying encapsulation of the culturally cross-pollinating Haitian sound.

    Considering that it spans 18 years, 27 artists and a wide range of styles, this is a remarkably consistent and fascinating collection, with a more or less relentless pulse and joyous mood throughout. A little momentum is lost only on a mere handful of tracks, where the style leans towards the more polite and tasteful end of traditional Latin music. Overall, Haiti Direct is engaging, approachable and extremely groovesome – and a welcome riposte to the negative clichés unfairly associated with Haiti after several decades’ worth of schlocky movies.

    HAITI DIRECT – COMING SOON!
    BIG BAND, MINI JAZZ AND TWOUBADOU SOUNDS, 1960-1978.
    A fresh collaboration with Strut Records, this time celebrating the overlooked musical legacy of Haiti, going beyond the voodoo stereotypes and tracing the development of a unique sound that echoed across the Caribbean. Double CD and vinyl will be dropping at the end of January 2014, in the meantime check a track from les Fantaisistes de Carrefour below!

    At the dawn of the ’60s, as Jamaica twisted American RnB into ska and reggae and musicians from Cuba and Puerto Rico codified the sound of Salsa, Haiti gave birth to Compas Direct – an updating of the traditional Meringue rhythm, adapted with a new swing and complex arrangements.
    The driving sound and irresistible beat of Compas swiftly dominated the French-speaking Caribbean as well as taking root in the urban centres of New York, Paris, Montreal and Miami.
    As the decade waned, the big band orchestras of Compas-originator Nemours Jean-Baptiste and musical rival Webert Sicot gave way to new, smaller groups like les Shleu Shleu and les Frères Déjean. Raw electric guitars, wailing sax lines and driving percussion combined as the groups blended local rhythms with rock and jazz influences, producing a raucous, punchy and densely textured sound that paved the way for the next decade.
    Into the ‘70s, the Mini-jazz sound had become a major force across the Caribbean and into mainland Europe and South America. Tabou Combo filled New York’s Central Park for a Summer concert and topped the charts in France, bringing the sound of Compas to a new and wider audience and would eventually form one of the cornerstones of the Zouk wave in the ’80s.


    CD1
    1. Ibo Combo – Ti Garçon
    2. Les Vikings – Choc Vikings
    3. Les Animateurs – Ti Machine
    4. Les Loups Noirs – Pile Ou Face
    5. Rodrigue Milien Et Son Groupe Combite Creole – 6ème Leçon
    6. Zotobre Feat. Webert Sicot – Lagen
    7. Les Fantaisistes De Carrefour – Panno Caye Nan Bwa D’chenn
    8. Bossa Combo – Line
    9. Les Pachas Du Canapé Vert – Désordre Musical
    10. Ti Paris Et Sa Guitare – Cochon St. Antoine
    11. Groupe Les Chleu-chleu – Compas X
    12. Ra Ra De Léogane – Gade Moune Yo
    13. Tabou Combo – Ce Pas
    14. Les Difficiles De Pétion-ville – An Septième
    15. Les Frères Dejean – Packard
    16. Trio Select – Ensemble Select En Action

    CD2
    1. Raoul Guillaume – Mal Élevé
    2. Super Jazz Des Jeunes – Cote Moune Yo
    3. Pierre Blain Et Orchestre Murat Pierre – Jouc Li Jou
    4. Ensemble Meridional Des Cayes – Calma Pèlerin
    5. Ensemble Etoile Du Soir – Messe Quatre Heures
    6. Nemours Jean-baptiste – Ti Carole
    7. Orchestre Septentrional – Baptême Ratt
    8. Les Ambassadeurs – Homenaje A Los Ambajadores
    9. Caribbean Sextet – Suspan’n
    10. Djet-x – Jive Turkey
    11. Les Shleu Shleu – Crapaud
    12. Scorpio Universel – Ti Lu Lu Pe
    13. Orchestre Tropicana D’haiti – Pran Pasyans

    Haiti Direct will be available on 2XCD, 2XLP and digital formats.
    Ayisyen likes this.
    "Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor." — Frantz Fanon

    “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” Frederick Douglass

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    Registered User Ayisyen's Avatar Ayisyen is offline
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    Nice, I will def be looking for this compilation when it comes out.

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    Registered User Seawall's Avatar Seawall is offline
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    Very good compilation, someone sent me mp3 files. I'm going to order my copy tomorrow. I was skeptical at first, these projects are aimed at the Afro funk, Western and Dj audience, however, the compiler did a good job. Fred Paul of Mini Records had a hand in the project, so much credit to him. I would’ve added some female vocalists, and the great Ti-Manno was left off. Maybe there will be a vol 2.
    "Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor." — Frantz Fanon

    “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” Frederick Douglass

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    Registered User Seawall's Avatar Seawall is offline
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    Here's an interview with the compiler. I believe that he compiled the recent 3 volume series on Panamanian music and French Caribbean music.

    Sofrito’s ‘International Soundclash’: An Interview with Hugo Mendez
    Posted by Emily Brinkworth and Mette Muhli on Juli 16, 2012 in Interviews,
    HugoMendezbyMetteMuhli5 Sofrito’s ‘International Soundclash’: An Interview with


    Hugo Mendez | iCrates Magazine

    Sailing the seven seas to discover vinyl treasures all the way from Colombia to Africa to the French Caribbean to Panama, founder of Sofrito and DJ Hugo Mendez brings these sounds to European ears, to people who haven’t heard anything like it before. Transforming them into a modern club culture context, he connects eras and continents. Although times may be a changin’ in the world of music, the Sofrito crew, consisting of Mendez, Frankie Francis, The Mighty Crime Minister and the wonderfully talented designer Lewis Heriz demonstrate that no matter the time or place, the idea that dance music brings people closer together is universal and timeless.

    It wasn’t your typical Sunday, even for a city as typically left-of-centre as Berlin. Picture parade floats sailing amongst a sea of cultures in Kreuzberg, each one blasting a different ethnic beat from the next and leaving a trail of confetti and romping rioters after them, dressed in everything from feather headdresses, tribal war paint, bamboo bikinis and sparkly unicorn get-ups.

    

What better place for Paris-based Sofrito DJ Hugo Mendez to spin a set than the Wax Treatment Carnival Weekender at Karneval der Kulturen, the annual Berlin festival celebrating culture, where he could do what he does best, mixing tropical rhythms from around the world with modern productions and exclusive dub-plate specials.

    

This July, Sofrito will be releasing their new album International Soundclash, featuring music from Trinidad, Colombia, Dominica, Congo, Cameroun and beyond. Exclusives include the deep Pacifico sound of Grupo Canalon’s ‘La Zorra y, El Perol,’ a new project from Nidia Góngora, singer with Quantic’s Combo Barbaro – a previously unreleased track by UK/Kenyan sensations Owiny Sigoma Band, and a Tropical Treats edit of Haiti’s dynamite Les Difficiles de Petion-Ville.

    HugoMendezbyMetteMuhli main Sofrito’s ‘International Soundclash’: An Interview with Hugo Mendez | iCrates Magazine

    

I caught up with Hugo at Karneval der Kulturen and asked him how he got hooked into tropical music, and how he goes about finding the X that marks the spot with his vinyl discoveries.

    So Hugo, how did it all begin, and when did you start navigating the seven seas of tropical sounds?




    The Sofrito parties started around 2005 in London. I’d just moved back to London from Brighton and wanted to put on some parties but felt the vibe in most of the venues in London wasn’t right for the crowd or the music so decided to start using warehouse spaces instead. The process was very organic but people were into it from the beginning – at the time there wasn’t a huge amount of that kind of music being played.


    The parties were initially run by me and Jono (aka the Mighty Crime Minister) – Frankie Francis joined soon after. I had met Lewis Heriz (our designer) when I DJed up in Nottingham – when he moved down the Sofrito family began to take shape.



    What are your biggest influences, both musically and non-musically?



    The musical influences behind Sofrito are obviously music from the Caribbean, South America and Africa but also growing up in London, listening to pirate radio and going to clubs from an early age. We’ve all brought something different to the parties but we all share a love of late-night partying and wanted to mix that with the older music that doesn’t always get that kind of exposure.

    

What are your thoughts on the evolution of music today, with Sofrito obviously being an example of blending old and new to create a whole new genre and sound? What is your response when people claim that music today is “dead” perhaps because it is not in the format they are used to? For instance, older generations who are still mourning the loss of The Beatles, Elvis and the classics from when they were growing up.



    Musical styles are constantly evolving and merging and always have been- you can either reject it or embrace it, but it is unstoppable and neither good nor bad, just the way it it. People that are overly concerned with notions of ‘purity’ in any given musical style are in dangerous water and tend to miss out on a lot of interesting stuff – having said that I’m not a big fan of autotune.



    As for music being ‘dead’, computers and affordable home studios mean it is simpler for people to make music but it isn’t any easier to make good music. The ratio stays the same it’s just the overall volume that has increased.



    As we all know, music is more accessible than ever these days, as you can listen or download a new song with a click of a button. What are your predictions or thoughts on future CD and vinyl sales? Do you think digital music will ever completely erase physical sound carriers (CDS/vinyls)?



    These days when people buy a CD or a record as opposed to a download they aren’t necessarily buying the music itself but buying an object – not at all a bad thing. Relationships with physical formats have completely changed, although the idea of (falsely) limited editions is fairly disingenuous. Most (although not all) limited editions are basically limited to the number of copies the label thinks they can sell. In the mid 90s labels like Good Looking (a UK drum n bass label) released a much-hyped ‘limited edition’ vinyl box set with a run of 5000, whereas today most labels would be pretty happy if they could sell half of that on vinyl, and that wouldn’t be a limited edition.



    Music means different things to different people, obviously, and some music scenes have significant historical meanings or themes – for instance, Jamaican reggae has a rich history of struggle and hope and a huge spiritual component to it. What does your musical genre, which is a little harder to define – “contemporary tropical rhythms” or “tropical discoteque” – mean to you?



    We play a lot of different kinds of music so it is impossible to generalise. Some songs will deal with political issues while others will not be dealing with any kind of serious subject matter. Calypso music tends to be about social issues whereas most Latin music (again, a generalization) is more about exhorting people to dance, so all bases are covered.

    You could argue that people getting together to dance and interact is the most important aspect of the music, more important than any particular message.



    What is it like being an artist in the city like Paris with the mix of people and cultures; a city known for love and passion and all things inspirational for an artist?



    The mentality and mixture of people in Paris is very different from London, New York or Berlin. People seem very open to new ideas and music but perhaps less open to traveling to hear it. On the whole the scene in Paris is more centred around live music than clubs and DJs.

    

If you had a time machine, which musical era would you go back to and why? You can pick more than one era and location.



    There are loads so it would be difficult to say, but it would be great to go to Chicago in the early ’80s and check out the clubs where house music was born – on the Tropical tip there was a club called 97.1 in Guadeloupe in the late ’60s that had a pretty amazing line-up of bands, it would be great to check that out.


    "Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor." — Frantz Fanon

    “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” Frederick Douglass

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    Registered User Seawall's Avatar Seawall is offline
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    Describe what is in store for listeners with your new International Soundclash album and the digging process behind finding these musical treasures.

    

The album follows on from the Tropical Discotheque compilation we put out last year – a mixture of old and new sounds from across the Tropical spectrum, all firmly aimed at the dancefloor. There’s some great new material from the Owiny Sigoma Band (who released their debut LP on Brownswood last year) and some heavy Soukous and Cadence tracks from the early ’80s. Since moving to Paris I’ve been listening to more and more Francophone music so that is fairly heavily featured. Overall the selection represents the sounds that we play at the Sofrito sessions. We also have the vinyl only “Sofrito Super Singles” label that tends to focus more on edits and club tracks that may not work so well over a whole CD.


    Describe your mixing process and what makes it different to other music that is out there?



    Frankie Francis runs The Carvery – a mastering and dubplate cutting studio in London – so we cut a lot of dubplates of old tracks and edits to ensure the sound works on a club sound system. A lot of old records are pressed pretty quietly so sometimes lack punch, we try to get them to sound good on a system.



    The concept behind iCrates magazine is to unearth a lot of great music that was never converted from vinyl to digital and thus never played on commercial radio or heard by many people in this day and age. What I like about Sofrito’s sounds is that you transform and reinvent music from the past – with Afro grooves, old school mambo, tropical disco, bouncing samba, calypso funk and heavy Cumbia – into a context that is accessible for people today, giving it a “club oriented approach”. You also said in an interview with Jelly Jazz in 2011 “It’s fun to recontextualise music that many people think of as folky or ‘world music’ into a more lively environment – to change the energy levels and shake things up a bit.” Could you expand a little more on why you are driven to do this?



    I think it’s natural to try and combine things that you are in to and want to share with other people. We are only able to present the music in a way that makes sense to us and is informed by how and where we first heard it – i.e. in European nightclubs. We are fully aware of the heritage of the music and how it has travelled across the world – we are just a small part of a much larger process and thankfully people enjoy the music as much as we do. Much non-European music tends to be presented in a fairly dry or academic way in the West – often far from its original context – while we’re not trying to recreate anything its good to present it in a different way and hopefully show the links between dance music across the world.

    

Finding these incredibly obscure and rare tropical records means you must be like the “Yoda” of record-digging. Describe your process of finding records and the different expeditions you’ve been on to find them?



    I wouldn’t say I’m a ‘yoda of record-digging’. The current interest in ‘record-digging’ for me ties in with a kind of quest for authenticity and to define DJs by their possessions rather than their taste or approach. There are a lot of people who go to great lengths to uncover and source rare and forgotten music but in fact many of them are not DJs – conversely there are excellent DJs who have never been further than their local record store or internet retailer. There no secrets to ‘digging’ – better described as ‘looking for records’ - it is a process of investigating the things that you find interesting. It just depends on how much time, money and effort you want to devote to it. It is a part of what we do but is not the be all and end all.



    What is your favourite find to date?



    A few years ago I was in the Caribbean and met a guy who sold tapes and CDs out of his house. He had run a club in the ’70s and had a huge collection of well-loved records that was a real snap-shot of what was going on at the time – a very eclectic selection. All the tracks he used to play were marked so it was very interesting to go through them and try to figure out how the music would have been played back in the day.



    If you could stage a warehouse party or event anywhere in the world, and money wasn’t an issue, where would it be and who would you have play?



    A tricky question – we’ve had some great parties in London but I don’t think I would turn down a session on the beach in the Caribbean.



    What impact do you want your listeners to walk away with after they go to one of your shows?



    Hopefully they will have danced a lot, heard some music that may be new to them and have made some new friends.



    And lastly, what are your future plans or goals?



    After the new compilation on Strut (out in July) we have several 12″ releases lined up for the Sofrito Super Singles label – there are a few other projects on the go but I don’t want to hex them so will stay quiet for the moment!


    "Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor." — Frantz Fanon

    “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” Frederick Douglass

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    Registered User Seawall's Avatar Seawall is offline
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    "Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor." — Frantz Fanon

    “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” Frederick Douglass

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