Posts Tagged ‘lakou mizik’
Songlines’ editors Jo Frost and Simon Broughton select their favourite albums of 2016
Jo Frost and Simon Broughton have handpicked their ten favourite albums of the year from over 700 featured reviews. These are the albums they found themselves returning to over and over, and the discs that made a lasting impression. Here are their choices for year’s greatest albums, but be sure to pick up a copy of the new issue (January/February 2017, #124), on sale December 9, for a full rundown.
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Anda Union – Homeland
(Hohhot Records, will be reviewed in #124)
These are distinguished songs about nature, history and identity from this nine-strong Inner Mongolian group, featuring horse head fiddles and growly throat singing.
Bollywood Brass Band & Jyotsna Srikanth – Carnatic Connection
(Bollywood Brass Band, will be reviewed in #124)
An energetic and cinematic journey south, with fuel provided by Jyotsna Srikanth’s Karnatic violin. Renditions of AR Rahman compositions appear alongside South Indian musical gems.
Calypso Rose – Far from Home
(Because Music, reviewed in #120)
With the help of Manu Chao, the Calypso queen represents her home country of Trinidad and Tobago, covering a range of social and political issues with a contemporary Caribbean flair.
Roberto Fonseca – ABUC
(Impulse!, reviewed in #123)
A raucous, dizzying journey back and forth through Fonseca’s Afro-Cuban musical heritage. An ambitious and convincing offering from the young maestro.
Derek Gripper – Libraries on Fire
(Derek Gripper, reviewed in #119)
With great aplomb, the South African takes on the compositions of the great 21-stringed kora players on his classical guitar. Gripper’s delicate transcriptions deliver beautiful results.
Kefaya – Radio International
(Radio International Records, reviewed in #122)
This debut album fizzes with the energy of the international collective’s acclaimed live shows and is hard hitting with its political commentary.
Lakou Mizik – Wa Di Yo
(Cumbancha, reviewed in #117)
Lakou Mizik’s debut is a passionate tribute to the people and culture of Haiti. Formed in the aftermath of the country’s 2010 earthquake, the collective deliver a project of celebration and hope.
Leyla McCalla – A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey
(Jazz Village, reviewed in #119)
An outstanding sophomore album from the young cellist and banjo player. Three years on from her stellar debut, McCalla once again draws from her Haitian heritage and Creole influences.
Vaudou Game – Kidayú
(Hot Casa Records, reviewed in #122)
Vaudou Game take a magpie-like approach to African music styles, uniquely blending Afrobeat, Ethio-jazz and highlife for an album that is unpredictable and fresh from start to finish.
Various Artists, featuring Musicians of the Calais ‘Jungle’ – The Calais Sessions
(Sessions of the World, will be reviewed in #124)
An extraordinarily and moving collaborative album. The resilient testament to the human spirit will reduce you to tears, but also uplift your heart.
Words by Jane Cornwell
A Haitian carnival of an album, with a pinch of New Orleans
Grabbing you by the scruff of the neck from the get-go, this nine-strong collective pays homage to Haiti’s varied traditions, and the indomitable spirit of Haitians. Brought to you by the management team behind Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, Lakou Mizik is a group of old hands and new talents, a sort of French-Caribbean Buena Vista Social Club formed in the wake of the 2010 earthquake that decimated Haiti and unleashed outbreaks of cholera, strife and chaos. The group have spent the past few years honing their live act, tightening their rousing mix of African, French, Caribbean and New Orleans influences, which they deploy on guitars, drums, rara carnival horns and, now and then, accordion. Their debut shines as a result.
This is roots revival music at its most joyous and vital, all soaring harmonies, call-and-response vocals and deep, trancey voodoo rhythms that lollop and roll.
Haitian legend Boulo Valcourt brings his mellifluous tenor to the opening verses of ‘Peze Kafe’, a Haitian standard that tells of a wrongful arrest; his son Steeve (sic) Valcourt and singer Jonas Attis bring guitars, rap and added depth. A project at the vanguard of Haiti’s reborn music industry; a Phoenix risen – propelled by hope and pride – from the ashes.
Our selection of the top ten new releases reviewed in the May (#117) issue.
Konono No 1 & Batida
Konono No 1 Meets Batida (Crammed Discs)
Five years since their last album, the innovative Grammy-winning group Konono No 1 are back and are joined by Portuguese-Angolan DJ Batida on this hypnotising collaborative effort.
Snowboy & The Latin Section
New York Afternoon (Snowboy Records)
With an illustrious discography going back to the late 80s, conguero Mark ‘Snowboy’ Cotgrove and his group release their first album on his eponymous label.
Astar (Breabach Records)
Magnetismo (Soundway Records)
Michael Messer’s Mitra
Call of the Blues (Knife Edge Records)
If Wishes Were Horses (Reveal Records)
Veretski Pass with Joel Rubin
Poyln: A Gilgul (Golden Horn Records)
Every Song Has its End: Sonic Dispatches from Traditional Mali (Glitterbeat)
Wa Di Yo (Cumbancha)
Full Attack Band
1001 (Full Attack Band)
Born in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, the Haitian band speak to Tom Pryor about making music to help their country recover
For one weekend in January, musicians from all over the world descend on New York City for a massive annual party. Anchored by the conference for the Association for Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), the city buzzes with showcases and mini-festivals, including Winter JazzFest, the Under the Radar festival, Prototype and more. For world music fans, the jewel in the crown is globalFEST — an annual, three-stage, one-night showcase featuring a dozen international artists — and the standout act at this year’s event was Haitian roots collective Lakou Mizik.
This multi-generational nine-piece ensemble made their NYC debut earlier that weekend at the venue Drom. At first glance they looked less than promising; all dreadlocks and matching dashikis, bongos and conch shells, like a cruise ship band gone to seed. But then the music kicked in and they damn near levitated the place. Lakou’s unique blend of Haitian roots traditions – insistent voodoo rhythms, rollicking raicine melodies, twobadou lyricism and blaring rara horns – was irresistible and for the next 40 minutes, the dance floor was filled with New Yorkers defrosting in their subtropical warmth. One night later Lakou did it all again, with a knockout globalFEST performance that ought to put them on the map permanently.
It’s been a long time coming. Lakou Mizik was born in 2010, in the wake of the earthquake that devastated much of Haiti in January of that year. Guitarist-singer Steeve Valcourt and singer Jonas Attis formed the nucleus of the band, with the input and support of American producer Zach Niles (who had previously worked with Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars). They wanted to make music that could help empower the Haitian people and speed the nation’s recovery, and recruited their own supergroup to do so.
Valcourt’s secret weapon was his father, Boulo Valcourt: a Haitian musical legend, best known for his group Caribbean Sextet. Thanks to years spent producing his father’s collaborations with musicians from all over the island, Steeve knew just where to find both young talent and seasoned veterans. Of the former, singer Jonas Attias brings a poet’s perspective to Lakou’s lyrics, while Nadine Remy’s big, church-trained voice sanctifies the music. Peterson ‘Ti Piti’ Joseph and James Carrier are the young men behind Lakou’s signature rara horns — the enormous metal coronets that are a staple of Haiti’s carnival celebrations. Sanba Zao – aka Louis Lesly Marcelin – is a master voodoo drummer and singer with 30 years of experience and an encyclopaedic knowledge of Haitian folk songs, while his son Woulele is a fierce percussionist in his own right. Bassist Lamarre Junior and accordionist Belony Beniste (longtime accompanist for singer Ti Coco) round out the group.
Lakou Mizik’s debut album, Wa Di Yo (on Cumbancha) captures the raucous spirit of their live show with swinging, guitar and accordion-driven tracks like ‘Anba Siklon’ and ‘Poze’, but adds more depth and texture with some slower, mid-tempo songs. ‘Pran Kwa Mwen’ and carnival favourite ‘Panama’am Tonbe’ showcase Remy’s gorgeous, clear voice, and let the musicians stretch out and breathe. The title-track, which translates as ‘We are Still Here’, is a clear-eyed statement of purpose, while ‘Bade Zile’ and ‘Parenn Legba’ draw from the voodoo repertoire and call down the loas (voodoo spirits) and the ancestors to bless the proceedings.
Album Lakou Mizik’s Wa Di Yo will be reviewed in the next issue (May, #117)