BADGI - Thurgot Theodat | A mighty convincing statement with elegance, style
2006 (Released: Sept. 6, 2006) - After
about twenty years of commitment and devotion to
music, saxophonist virtuoso Thurgot Théodat
released in September 2006 his first CD under the
stunning title of "BADJI". Thurgot has
spent the last 10 years traveling in the country
to teach the youth music reading, harmony and improvisation
under a grant funded by the French Government. As
he confessed to kariJazz, he also spends a great
deal of time in the Lakou soaking himself into the
magic world of the drums where he enjoys falling
in deep flirtation with the muses.
The richness of the melodies heard in "Souvnans",
the intricacy of the rhythms he paid heed to in
"Soukri" drove the artist to launch a
gem in the pure tradition of Foula and Sa's culture.
Thurgot has internalized, shaped and carried forth
the language of voodoo-jazz through a systematic
exploration of Lakou's sounds and colors. When he
weaves tapestries derived from old religious melodies
from his childhood (Dilere, letènèl),
but makes them personal and new, he exemplifies
with brilliance the broad scope of his talents as
composer, arranger and saxophone player.
This CD is a tribute to our rich and diverse culture.
It is an homage to some of our great art figures:
Mireille Perodin-Jérôme, Jean Claude
Garoute (TIGA). As he emphasized it so well: "I
did not want this CD to resemble too much to me
because it is about something greater than me, it
is about beauty, colors and generosity". Hence
he does not hesitate to leave the artistic direction
of the project to Claude Py, a superb French guitarist
whose addiction to cords gives to the pieces an
amazing modern tone. Extremely versatile, Claude
Py's contribution to this CD is huge. His solos
take us to a journey through the world of Jimmy
Hendrix, Sonny Sharrock, Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell.
The rhythmic section is extremely dynamic. It is
comprised of three traditional drums/percussion,
a regular drummer from Senegal (Sega Seck) and a
prodigious bassist who happens to be Thurgot's student.
The listener will immediately identify the prominence
of the drums at the entrance of the CD. Thurgot
worships the polyrhythmic approach initiated by
"Sa" (late 70s) and "Foula"
(his former band in the late 80s) and the first
piece drives you right down into this complexity.
This influence is largely expressed in the CD. Here
are a few comments on some of the pieces on this
highly recommended album.
Dilere opens on a vocal prowess by Nickel
Jasmin on a polyrhythmic background expressing sorrow
and sadness for the future loss of a woman who caught
a disease while sleeping in the field. The piece
turns later into a jazzy-funky exercise full of
colors and joyfully lead by bassist Marc-Richard
Mirand. There is a beautiful transition between
Thurgot's solo and the Jimmy Hendrix's delusional
approach of Claude Py. The piece closes the same
way it began (traditional drums playing different
Mireille is a piece written for Mireille
Perodin-Jérôme the wife of the late
visual artist Jean René Jérôme.
Thurgot's sound on soprano is divine and the guitarist
cords progressions (Bill Frisell's flavor) add a
lot of character to this gorgeous ballad.
Ra-bop-day brings up the Lakou ambiance mixed
with the funky-swing lines of bassist Marc Richard
Guirand. Here again the guitarist changes the registry
and ventures into the world of Jazz-Rock guitarist
Sonny Sharrock to complete this artistically blended
mixtures of components which apparently have nothing
to do together. Yet, it is a very convincing concoction
which expresses very well the philosophy of this
Letènèl is based on a traditional
religious song sung in almost all churches in Haiti.
It is magic the way this simple melody was turned
into a straight be-bop jazz master piece with a
very expressive bass solo followed by a driving
solo in the Sabbar style (Senegal popular rhythm)
by drummer Sega Sèk.
RV is a tribute to the late Hervé
Denis for whom Thurgot nourished admiration and
respect. The piece opens on a kind of Coltrane preamble
and turned later into a soothing Bossa Nova. This
is a joyful take and Claude Py drives us again to
the heartland of America by adding that Frisell's
sound to the piece.
Sega Chéga closes the CD. Based on
the rara concept, the piece exhibits all the complexity
of this Haitian popular music. Named after the drummer
Sega Seck, this beautiful piece retrace history
because it represents a convergent point between
the rhythms of Haiti, the drums of our Alma Mater
Africa and the sounds of the modern world embodied
by Claude Py's guitar. This is a very short piece
(about 3mns) which was designed as a closure to
the story the saxophonist wanted to tell.
In conclusion, this is great music composed in majority
by Thurgot Théodat (8 of 11 tracks are from
him) who definitely is an astonished composer, a
talented arranger, an exceptional practitioner of
the Coltrane's instrument. He has chosen to go the
hard way by playing one of the most sophisticated
styles in Haitian contemporary music; and the least
we can do is to encourage such a great endeavor
in a country where nobody seems to care about anything
but their own self. As he told KariJazz, the album
is a result of 15 years of hard work because in
Haiti, as we all know, there is a shortage of everything
and music is no exception to the rule. It is rare
to find qualified musicians to play contemporary
music. This is the main reason why the saxophonist
is doing also so many clinics throughout the country.
This CD, the first of a great series (I hope), is
a piece of art to possess. It deserves to earn critical
acclaim on every step of the way because it is an
outstanding work of art. KariJazz is proud to highly
recommend this album to all Jazz aficionados out
there. Chapeau Mr. Theodat!
This release is a co-sponsoring effort
between FOKAL (NGO) and the French cooperation.