January 9, 2014

Haiti Direct: Big Band, Mini-Jazz & Twoubadou Sounds, 1960-1978

ARTIST: various artists
TITLE: Haiti Direct: Big Band, Mini-Jazz And Twoubadou Sounds 1960-1978
LABEL: Strut
Too small, too close to the USA, overshadowed by its neighbors – for whatever reason, Haiti is unjustly neglected in discussion of the world’s great music scenes. Hugo Mendez (of the DJing collective Sofrito) and Strut Records have the antidote in this marvelous two-disc compilation. Mendez is virtually unique in the cratedigging community for his emphasis on the French Caribbean; here he provides an excellent overview of compas, cadence, mini-jazz and the variety of dynamic genres that were introduced in Haiti in the 60’s and 70’s and remain beloved by many to this day. There’s so much to enjoy here: start with disc 1, track 10 for folkloric underpinnings, 2-2 for a big-band interpretation of the same song, and 1-1 to hear how mini-jazz differs from the big band sound; move on to the classic dancefloor-packing compas sound of 1-11 and the zouk-influenced 1-14; don’t skip the Cuban (2-9 and 2-10) or Afrobeat (1-4) excursions; and for novelty appeal check out 2-12, which manages to interpolate “Hotel California” compas-style. Better yet, just play the whole thing straight through at your next party; your guests will thank you.
TOP TRACKS:    CD 1 – 1    4    10    11    14    CD 2 – 2    9    10    12
ALSO RECOMMENDED: pretty much all of the rest of them

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