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Mozayik | Mozayik (2000 Release) | Jazz with a Haitian Flavor

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 Eddy Bourjolly.

Mozayik | Mozayik, 2000 ReleaseThis 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…are 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 this CD.

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… Pianist Wilmyr 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 artistry…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

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