July 1, 2011

Tabou Combo | Respect

ARTIST:  Tabou Combo
TITLE:  Respect
LABEL:  Secret Stash 
REVIEW:  This is a reissue of a 1973 recording by Tabou Combo, one Haiti’s most famous bands.  They formed in 1967 and relocated to New York City in 1970, where they continue to be active as both a live and a recording act -- their most recent album was released earlier this year.  Tabou’s style is called konpa or compas; it got started in the 1950’s, derived from merengue but with a stronger, straighter rhythm.  Tabou incorporated a myriad of other influences into konpa -- the accordion evokes French chanson, the rhythm section adds American funk, salsa and Brazilian music to the mix, and the extended guitar rave-ups sound like they come right out of a Congolese sebene.  Like Congolese soukous, Tabou Combo’s version of konpa on this album is party music supreme: no matter how a song starts, it’s likely to end in an ecstatic dance floor pileup.  This is sometimes called Haiti’s national music, and by virtue of the band being based in Brooklyn for the last 40 years, it’s also one of the USA’s great contributions to world music.  If you don’t know konpa, here’s a great place to start.
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