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GIFRANTS - Serenade / Twoubadou Sèk | Poetry in smooth sounds and vibrant colors

Gifrants | 2001 ReleaseMarch 20, 2006 - When you are listening to Serenade or Twoubadou Sčk by Gifrants one may think of a tribute to the troubadour who travels many places (generally with a musical instrument) playing stunning melodies that soothe and refresh the mind. The very popular word troubadour taken in the Haitian context refers to a form of acoustic music played with acoustic guitar/banjo and drums with a lead singer. Among those singers are Tiparis, Althierry Dorival, Rodrigue Milien to cite a few.

Gifrants' vision extends this concept to a more modern form. Despite their release respectively in 1996 and 2001, more than ten years ago, KariJazz, felt compelled to review these albums today for two reasons:

1- Some discussions generated through our forum section seem to show a certain interest for this music which advocates a pure Haitian integrity.

2- Gifrants has a very personal approach to singing which is closer to the troubadours (sambas) of our countryside than the new trends we have seen, since the emergence of the Kreyňl Jazz in the early eighties. There is a sort of come back to the roots in quest of an identity.

Back up by a group of very talented musicians the troubadour delivers 28 songs that he has written, composed and arranged. There is an obvious influence of the Brazilian approach of singing. However one feels it in the background, it does not submerge Gifrants' musical personality. His lines, words/phrases and sounds melt together to render a statement brimmed with poetry and colors. One may be uncomfortable with his way of singing but as you walk through the albums, you discover an original approach as virtue of the influence of Brazilian music. This is a successful attempt to merge Haitian folk songs/style with a music that is original and eclectic. Bear in mind that these two cultures have a common root: the religion. Indeed, Haiti and Brazil share a common set of beliefs and religious practices that are central in the shaping of their culture and music. Therefore, it is logical for someone who is an advocate of Haitian integrity in music (Gifrants is…) to draw from such sources.

The "Serenade project" has been conceived to carry forward that kind of advocacy and we can say that Gifrants has created a beautiful piece of art here. The choice of the musicians also plays a major role in rendering this vision. Eddy Bourjolly's sweet tone guitar suits perfectly this setting. His brief solos leave the listener breathless and the colors he brings to this album depict a joyful tapestry comprised of jazz licks and samba's poetry. His textural support bears an artistic significance…that reflects a unique and strong culture. For sure we have here strong foundations for a music that reflects our own identity.

"Twoubadou Sčk", on the other hand, contains a stronger influence of the Brazilian music and the general tone of the album is more Jazzy with a clear determination to bring our music to the next level. Here again Gifrants' prowess is superb and his technique of mixing scatting (Haitian style) and words is amazing. The listener will love pieces like madhouse, dyaspora, kanzo dosou, sekou, zeina ect…

One more time, the prominence of drums and rhythms inspired from our deep culture give to this music a unique flavor that reinforce our feeling on what is central to the Haitian Musical Experience and in which direction it is going to achieve a unique sound that will unequivocally identify the music of Haiti. We salute highly the poet, the musician and the troubadour for the serenity and the exceptional range of expressions exhibited throughout the two albums. These albums may constitute a good repertoire for our jazz musicians. Highly recommended!

Alphonse Piard, Jr.
March 20, 2006

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