Two favorites tonight. One recent and one old. Both from the Caribbean a region of the world I’ve never spent time but where music is fresh and exhilarating.
Lilting biguines, heavy gwo ka drums and tumbélé rhythms collide with the sounds of the carnival. Haitian, Congolese and Puerto Rican influences are added to the pot in a percussive celebration of Afro-Caribbean spirit.
Martinique and Guadeloupe are overseas départements of France, situated in the Eastern Caribbean island chain of the Lesser Antilles. Successive waves of immigrants and a strong French colonial presence have combined to produce a strong musical culture that takes in African and latin rhythms alongside Jazz, calypso and the local biguine style.
Often overlooked in the English speaking Caribbean, the scattering drums and soaring clarinets of the biguine ruled the airwaves and dancefloors of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the 1960s.
This album showcases the vibrancy of the scene on the islands in the ‘60s and ‘70s – a scene that would go on to develop the all-conquering sound of zouk in the ‘80s. Uptown bands like Ensemble La Perfecta and Les Loups Noirs combine heavy rhythms and psychedelic effects in an inimitable style – check out the crazed Jet Biguine for a better idea! The deep and introspective sounds of Monsieur Dolor and Guadeloupean hero Robert Loison show the deep African roots of the music – songs born out of the plantations, with an insistent rhythm and mournful vocals that are unique to these islands.
Overlooked outside of Paris, Montreal and the French Caribbean for many years, this collection redresses the balance by presenting the vital sounds of Martinique and Guadeloupe – missing pieces of the musical jigsaw puzzle of the Caribbean.
This is really exciting fast moving dance music. Unfortunately, as one listens to it one is filled with regret that these small musical islands are so blasted far away from the neighborhood.
01 Jeunesse Vauclin – Barel Coppet et Mister Lof
02 Jet Biguine – Les Loups Noirs D’Haïti
03 Pas O Soué La – Abel Zénon
04 Manzè Mona – Raphaël Zachille
05 Henri Te Vlé Mayé – Robert Mavounsy Quartet
06 La Vie Critique – L’Orchestre Jeunesse de Paul-Emile Haliar
07 Mussieu A Têt’a Poisson La – Orchestre Combo Zombi et Michel Yéyé
08 Oriza – Les Kings
09 Colas-la – Claude Rolcin et Le West Indian Combo
10 Ti Fi La Ou Té Madam’ – Anzala, Dolor, Vélo
11 D’Leau Coco – Les Leopards
12 Jojo – Ensemble La Perfecta
13 Dima Bolane – Le Ry-co Jazz
14 Edamise Oh! – Lola Martin
15 Chombo Meringue – Les Aiglons de Basse Terre
16 Son Tambou La – Les Gentlemens
17 Chonga – L’Ensemble Abricot
18 Fileo – Francisco
19 Panty – Monsieur Dolor et Les Guitar Boys
20 Jean Fouillé, Pie Fouillé – Robert Loison
A part of the world I have had the privilege of working in is Angola which throughout its 25 years of civil war was supported by Cuban troops and doctors. When I was there Angolans were ambivalent about the value the Cuban soldiers had added to their country. But I never met one Angolan who had anything but awed respect and praise for the dedication of the thousands of Cuban doctors and medical staff who worked throughout the country in shocking conditions and on very low wages.
The experience obviously made an impression on the Cubans themselves, as is heard in the song De Kabinda a Kunene Un Solo Pueblo (The Only Person from Kabinda to Kunene) on the collection of Cuban music Sabroso! Havana Hits. The song is a humorous musing of a Cuban (Doctor perhaps?) who is stuck alone in the vastness of Angolan landscape.
All the songs on this record are similar but very different from those of the French Caribbean and make a nice complement to Tumbele!
01 A Los Rumberos De Belen - Grupo Sierra Maestra
02 Camina Y Ven - Celina Gonzalez
03 El Son De Nicaragua - Orquestra Chepin
04 Rucu Rucu A Santa Clara - Grupo Irakere
05 Chilindron De Chivo - Conjunto Casino
06 De Kabinde A Kunene Un Solo Pueblo - Conjunto Los Karachi
07Anda Ven Y Muevete - Orquestra Los Van Van
08 Vuela La Paloma - Conjunto Rumbavana
09 Se Que Tu Sabes Que Yo Se - Orquestra Revé
10 Frutas Del Caney – Grupo Monumental