Mozayik | Mozayik (2000 Release) | Jazz with a Haitian
When Haitian traditional rhythms meet with contemporary
jazz structures, the mixture gives you something
called M-O-S-A-Y-I-K. As the name already suggested,
Mozayik (Mosaic) is a combination of various styles
of musics/rhythms and a very genuine concept that
came from a hand full of extremely talented musicians
under the leadership of outstanding jazz guitarist
This is their first CD released in 2000. In my opinion,
it is a milestone in Kreyòl Jazz Music. The
album is comprised of 10 pieces where all kind of
music styles are being played with a mastery that
is not common to Haitian musical culture. It is
incredible how versatile these musicians are. Indeed,
they exhibit deep knowledge and easiness in the
playing of their respective musical instrument.
They play a large array of styles from traditional
Haitian music, funk or Brazilian samba to straight
ahead bebop jazz as well.
By drawing from our various traditional rhythms
this band continues to perpetuate a unique musical
experience. Indeed the advance musical skills they
exhibit make them capable of laying formats for
future references in Kreyòl Jazz. This is
probably the first time that a Haitian group has
achieved such a great and pleasant symbiosis between
our culture and contemporary music. A few attempts
were done before with the extraordinaire semi obscure
combo "Sa" and with "Boukman Experience"
in its early days as far as I know. The late pianist
Gérald Merceron and vocalist Herby Widmaier
have also done some positive work, promoting that
style. But with Mozayik, this experience has reached
a crossing point.
In contemporary jazz music, we have so many currents
characterized, most of the time, by the format used.
With that regard, I think Mozayik is laying down
the foundations to many formats in Kréyòl
Jazz. In our traditional culture, the diversity
of rhythms allows the jazz musician to have a choice
of materials to build upon. We remember how Jazz
musicians in the sixties used to travel to Haiti
to research on these rhythms. Hence, Konngo, Nago,
Petro, Ibo, Yanvalou, afro rhythms etc
gold mine and thanks to this group of brilliant
musicians to bring a kind of new codification to
this movement. If you do not know this CD it is
a must for your collection. If you have it already,
listen to it again and pay close attention to the
following tracks and you will understand my statement
about laying down formats for future works in this
domain. And maybe in the future, when this movement
will be more structured, critics will most likely
engrave this album in the connoisseurs Hall of Fame.
Following are a few comments about some pieces on
Peze Kafe is based on the konngo rhythm.
It is an arrangement from guitar virtuoso Eddy Bourjolly.
The groove is sustained by bassist Philippe Charles
and percussionist Markus Schwartz. Excellent work
of innovation, outstanding solos
Jean Pierre is great and Eddy sets off so well by
bringing this very jazzy approach to the piece.
Great work of art
Nago Wes is a tribute to guitar master Wes
Montgomery, probably Eddy's mentor. The guitarist
uses here a lot of this master's licks and soloing
techniques as well as many melodic ideas. The fusion
with the Nago rhythm is brilliantly done and the
piece flows with such an easiness. This is pure
Great composition by drummer Gashford
Guillaume, another revelation of this CD; Mr. Guillaume
is one of the most prominent drum players of the
Kreyòl Jazz scene. Listen to his energetic
solo on the straight bebop piece called Focus, the
last one on the CD. He also performs an excellent
job on this album as he sustains the whole background
with Markus Schwartz (the only player who is not
Haitian, but you do not feel that) and Philippe
Charles (whose primary instrument is not bass, according
to his brother Joe).
Ou pran la Vi'm, the only straight vocal
piece of the CD features singer Emeline Michel who
wrote the lyrics. This is a composition of Gashford
Guillaume and this piece should easily convince
the skeptics about Emeline advanced skills as a
jazz singer. Indeed, she exhibits comfort in switching
from treble to bass unexpectedly. Great singer!
Celebration is a piece based on the well
known rhythm Yanvalou. Composed by Eddy B, this
piece opens a window for future prospects. As I
mention above, this is a format that other musicians
can use to develop more insights and move further
this incredible great adventure that is Kreyòl
Jazz. Thanks Eddy for this beautiful solo: one of
your best I think.
I could extend this review to every single piece
on the CD, but I think the reader at this point
should get the picture.
This is a fine CD collection that will delight Kreyòl
Jazz fans and maybe bring the band new fans! These
guys are on top of their forms and all of their
performances on the album sparkle with verve, life,
and imagination. This is a splendid recording, one
to possess, cherish and enjoy. I really like the
complexity of this music. Highly recommended
Alphonse Piard, Jr.
October 2, 2006