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Among the first musicians to open the doors to a musical renaissance that would lead later to the so called Kreyňl Jazz, Mushy Widmaier is to be considered as one of the architects and pioneers of this great movement that everybody is talking about today. Indeed in the late seventies, his collaborations and works with a handful of musicians created significant ground works that laid the foundations of a new thinking, a new approach in the Haitian Musical Experience. KariJazz met with M. Widmaier. He spoke about his music, his passion…his vision. This interview is very informative and the reader will discover what drives this talented musician who has been a key player on the Haitian musical scene for the last decades.


KariJazz: Thanks in advance to graciously agreeing to this interview. KariJazz is aware of the uniqueness of this moment and we are glad to serve as a vehicle to reach out to your fans and talk about your music.

Mushy: First of all let me thank you and the staff at KariJazz for this interview and your support to Kreyňl Jazz. And I want to say hi! to all the fans and supporters of Kreyňl Jazz out there. You help us make the difference.

KariJazz: First of all, we want to acknowledge your significant contribution to the cause of Kreyňl Jazz because, besides the long list of all kinds of projects you have been involved with in other areas, you have always nurtured this passion for Jazz/world music. The result was a one-of-a-kind project "Kote-ou" from "Mushy et Lakansyel" which came out in the early eighties and represented a breakthrough on the Haitian musical scene in terms of sounds and concept. Can you tell us more about it?

Mushy: The project "Kote-ou" is bound emotionally to a moment and a place. Two friends, Phillipe and Chantal Simpson lost their lives on "La Nationale No 2" while traveling to Les Cayes. Phillipe was the first with Ralph Boncy, Joel, Raoul and me to create the label Zčklč Music. There was a need for change on the musical scene at that time and "Zčklč Music" was the revolutionary platform supporting that change. Zčklč had a different approach. Its music was out of the mainstream. Most of the Zčklč musicians got together because of their common musical aesthetics. Our musical education and background resulted from the influence of many genres, Classical, Kompa, Folk, Rock, Softrock, Brazilian, Jazz, Popular and French music etc…. Jazz was very present in our world. The influence of musicians like Herby Widmaier, Frantz Courtois, Gerald Merceron etc was also important in shaping our skills… Three members of the group were working in the Radio environment in Haiti. The plurality of cross cultural music styles being played on the radio was a direct heritage from our geographical location as well as the cultural duality resulting from our history. Music had no frontier to us, it was more "do we like it or not?" the appreciation of it was not influenced neither by the place or the ethnicity of the group making it. When Zčklč's first album came out, we were tagged by critics as the "Weather report" of the Caribbean which led to name one of our songs "Caribean Report".

Meanwhile, on the international jazz scene, we observe the emergence of a new style of music hosted and promoted by a label called ECM Record best known for Jazz music, but with motto. "The most beautiful Sound Next to Silence" with Pat Metheny, Keith Jarret, Mal Waldron, Gary Burton, Paul Motian Charlie Haden, Jan Garbarek etc… shared a common aesthetic framework , including a crispy nuanced recording sound, and original music from artists who barely "swing" . There was a clear link with world music and musicians like Nana Vasconscelos, Egberto Gismonti, Anouar Brahem etc… emerged as precursors of the "New Age Music" according to certain critics.

Let us not forget also some influence from our Caribbean fellows like Marius Cultier (Mazurka-beguine) that was recorded in our studio back in the days in Haiti with Herby Widmaier and his second Album with Ralph Tamar (first recording for the latter). Personally I consider Marius being one of the greatest composer and piano player of Caribbean Kreyňl Jazz. And… this says it all. In conclusion, Zčklč and Lakansyel are two names under the same roof of changes. One more pop rock "commercially" oriented and the other more roots more jazz more world. These two streams will merge later on. On the latest Zčklč album "San Mele", Lakansyel and Zčklč became one accepted entity and more assimilated to what we call Kreyňl Jazz.

KariJazz: While you are talking about Zčklč, let's talk about your brother Joel with whom you have done most of your significant projects. How is it like to work together and develop such a long flawless collaboration?

Mushy: After my classical years, I started playing music with my brothers. Being raised in a family of musicians was very stimulating. Joel and I started to play at a very early age and we learned along the way by practicing and rehearsing how to play together and respect each other. And because we have been listening to the same music styles and musicians we developed more or less the same aesthetics and these formed the chemistry that can be seen when we play live and in our way of composing. In composition our individual style is very distinct in the content while being similar in form. I would say that it is great to work and play with somebody that close, someone who understands you.


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