KariJazz Magazine - Listen to KariJazz Station LIVE!
KariJazz Magazine KariJazz CD Reviews Kreyol Jazz CDs kariJazz Event Posting KariJazz Event Reviews KariJazz Interviews KariJazz Articles KariJazz Pictures KariJazz Videos KariJazz Music Store KariJazz Forum


  CD Reviews

BUYU AMBROISE - MARASA (2006) | Revisiting the past and reclaiming the Haitian/Creole legacy in jazz

December 13, 2006 - Here are some phrases, one might think of, when it comes to describe or put epithets on Alix "Buyu" Ambroise's music: totally organic, unplugged, acoustic. He just released (December 8, 2006) Marasa, his second album, two years after the highly acclaimed Blues in Red. With this new album, Buyu is entering the mainstream jazz world and the listener will figure out at once the evolution in the saxophonist's music. The material on the first album was geared toward a kind of affirmation of identity. Having lived outside of Haiti since his prime childhood, he probably felt compelled to go back to his roots in a quest of this identity which always appears so distant and elusive to longtime immigrants.

Buyu Ambroise | Marasa, 2006 ReleaseWith this new album, this is still a journey toward our roots but from a New Orleans culture standpoint. Marasa is about going back to the city of Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941)(1) or Ferdinand Joseph Lamothe in quest of these roots which have played a major role in the early development of jazz music. The title Marasa (Creole translation of twins) purposely selected put in display the idea of the existing duality in Jazz roots. Although this music, as we know it today, has been developed essentially in the United States of America, its origin took roots partly in the rich and diverse Creole tradition of Haiti (2). History taught us that at the end of the 18th, beginning of the 19th centuries, many masters, with their slaves, ran away from Saint Domingue (Haiti) to settle in Cuba and New Orleans: two main sources of deep mutations in Jazz Music. The slaves introduced the drums in New Orleans (native slaves were not playing the instrument) and initiated this rich musical tradition from which came Jelly Roll Morton. This Creole of Haitian descent changed his name for business purpose, because of the negative "frenchy" connotation of Ferdinand Joseph Lamothe.

The album is comprise of 9 pieces and it carries a New Orleans/Be Bop flavor with rich and dazzling horn arrangements that bring scale and sustainability to Buyu's music. His performance sparkles with verve and he gratifies our ears with colorful tones. His "sweet aggressive sound" is original and constitutes a great testimony of his maturity as a musician and his total control over the instrument. The rhythmic section is excellent with an intricate combination of a regular jazz drums set and traditional Haitian drums (polyrhythmic approach). The result is a beautiful background that expresses this aforementioned duality. Let us take a look at some of the pieces on the album.

Priyè Ginen / Anonse is an incantation used as prelude in voodoo ceremonies. When Buyu heard this song some 15 years ago, he became infatuated with it and decided that one day he would record it. Here is the job. A five-minute piece that lays on a kind of McCoy Tyner style background which give the saxophonist ample latitude to explore the highs.

Café is a composition made popular by the former mini-jazz "Ibo Combo" in the early 70's. The horn section on this piece is great and this young trumpet player (Gil "XL" Defay) adds a joyful note to the whole composition. His coolness suggests some of Chet Baker's lines in Concierto de Aranjuez (Jim Hall's Concierto 1975 CTI). It is amazing how Buyu's talent can twist this Ansy Dérose composition and gives it this Jazz-Club-ambiance. One has even the impression of hearing glasses jingling and these repetitive exclamations "Yeah, Yeah", so characteristic of jazz fans' exitement.

Marasa: In Haitian Creole, Marasa means twins. In voodoo, Marasa or Sacred Twins are symbolically represented either by two or three entities. Two symbolizes abundance. Three can mean overabundance. Each "Nation" of divinities has its Marasa. The composition reflects the artist internalizing, adapting, synthesizing, and re-inventing across two cultures- Haiti's and North America's. It is a strong statement about this quest of identity in the origins of jazz music. Bass player Paul Beaudry is a fireball of enlightened precision and energy. He is also a key player of the arrangement team

Dilere: Originated from the traditional Haitian repertoire, this piece seems to inspire our jazz virtuosos. After Thurgot Theodat, here is Buyu's version of this catchy melody. James "Tiga" Jean Baptiste's drum is omnipresent, strong and fast. How many hands the heck he gets? The piece flows brimming with two exquisite solos from Buyu and Lou Raimone, a pianist who seems to have an addictive taste for long, endless, colorful and intricate lines.

Footprints: This famous Wayne Shorter's composition is revisited by lining a strong polyrhythmic background with a very interesting dialog between the drums: excellent expression of the duality mentioned above. Buyu's performance exhibits a lot of energy. The piano-drum-conga prelude on this piece is so elusive and hard to describe. Music lovers will be delighted by this preamble.

This album is about reclaiming the Creole legacy in this music that has travelled throughout the world and has been adopted by so many people (nations) as a unique and original way of expression of their culture. We have been deprived of so many of our contributions to the well being of the so-called civilized world. Today, it is refreshing to see such efforts to reclaim this longtime lost legacy. This is a stunning endeavor, embellished by breathless solo statements which drive the ensemble forward in a decisive and unpredictable way. Buyu's group concept and enlightened leadership have drawn an astonishing group of highly qualified players around him. Last but not least, excellent job and thumbs up on these stunning arrangements. KariJazz is proud to introduce this new material from the creator of Blues and Red. Under our criteria we strongly feel that this album deserves the highest rate. Highly recommended!

Monsieur Ambroise, Les haitiens vous doivent une fière chandelle. Chapeau!

(1) Composer/pianist Jelly Roll Morton was the first significant jazz composer, stemming from his travels in the early 1900s during which he integrated gospel, blues, ragtime, French, Hispanic and Caribbean influences into a distinct style. Morton was a colorful personality who brazenly claimed to have invented jazz -- often revising music history, always to his favor, through exaggerations and misinformation he related to music historian/biographer Alan Lomax. Nonetheless, early classics like "King Porter Stomp" and "Wolverine Blues" certainly validate that he played a major role in the development of jazz.
To view the whole Downbeat article on Jelly go to this link

(2) Peter Hanley, Jelly Roll Morton :" An Essay in Genealogy"

Alphonse Piard, Jr.
For Karijazz

Back to CD Reviews

HOMEPAGE | Karijazz Store | Gallery Photo | Become a Member | Contact Us | FORUM

Copyright © 2005-2013 KariJazz Magazine - All rights reserved