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BADGI - Thurgot Theodat | A mighty convincing statement with elegance, style and openhandedness

November 9, 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.

Thurgot Theodat | BADJI, 2006 ReleaseThe 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 rhythms).

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 masterpiece.

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.

Alphonse Piard, Jr.

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