Literally years in the making, our Haiti Direct collection, compiled by Hugo Mendez of Sofrito, is out and available in stores. The two disc collection celebrates the overlooked musical legacy of Haiti, going beyond Ra-ra and voodoo stereotypes to trace the development of a unique sound that echoed across the Caribbean, yet remains relatively under the radar outside of the region.
Support from fans, press, and radio has been amazing, with BBC Radio 6 Music playlisting regularly, and the Sunday Times calling the collection “essential listening.”
Haiti Direct is available on 2xCD, 2xLP (with CD included), and digital download, and can be purchased from local music retailers, as well as iTunes, Amazon, and the Strut Store.
Preview three of the tracks from Haiti Direct below.
One of the most interesting aspects of the music and time period covered on our Haiti Direct release is the sheer number of stylistic fusions that characterize Haiti’s music of the 60’s and 70’s. “Pile Ou Face,” by Les Loups Noirs, stands out with the notable influence of American soul music, and the lightly psychedelic elements of the guitar and organ make it especially unique.
From the liner notes:
Led by charismatic singer Gardner Lalanne, Les Loups Noirs (The Black Wolves) were extremely popular in the ’70s, touring extensively and recording across the Caribbean and in New York and Paris. “Pile Ou Face” (heads or tails) is an uncharacteristically experimental instrumental that layers saxophones and swirling organ over a rolling compas beat – a great demonstration of the way that the timbales and percussion sections of the big bands were being replaced by stripped-back cowbell and kick drum at the beginning of the ‘70s.
Haiti Direct, compiled by Hugo Mendez of Sofrito, is out today (tomorrow in the US). Pick it up at fine music stores worldwide, or via the links below:
iTunes • Amazon • Strut Store
Super Jazz des Jeunes are an institution of Haitian music. Headed by saxophonist and arranger Réné St. Aude, they developed what they termed ‘Voudou Jazz’, blending traditional folk songs and rhythms with big band arrangements – something also promoted by the more uptown orchestra of Issa el Saieh. First coming together in the early 1940s, the Jazz des Jeunes were 20-year veterans when “Coté Moune Yo” was recorded and represent a side of Haitian music that pre-dates – and at the time opposed – the compas explosion.
Sung by Gerard Dupervil, “Coté Moune Yo” is a big band setting of a traditional Haitian folk song, adding the traditional vaksin to the line-up.
Haiti Direct: Big Band, Mini Jazz & Twoubadou Sounds, 1960-1978 comes out January 27th: Pre-order at iTunes • Amazon • Strut Store
The Caribbean is responsible for so much incredible music, it can be difficult to stay on top of it all. Haitian music in particular seems to have been broadly overlooked on a global scale. Our collection Haiti Direct (compiled by Hugo Mendez of Sofrito and out in January 2014) aims to offer an entry point to Haiti’s musical output of the 1960’s and 70’s, covering a variety of musical styles and interesting fusions. “Panno Caye Nan Bois Chêne,” by Les Fantaisistes de Carrefour, offers a glimpse at some of the music included in the collection.
From the album’s liner notes:
Founded by saxophonist Carmin Bichotte in the summer of 1967 in the Carrefour suburb of Port au Prince, Les Fantaisistes celebrated their more egalitarian roots and promoted themselves in opposition to the more uptown milieu of groups like Les Shleu Shleu, scoring numerous hits with lead singer Ricot Mazarin. The spaced-out “Panno Caye Nan Bois Chêne” – with vocals by Haitian singer and poet Ansy Derose – is taken from an album recorded whilst on tour in Guadeloupe in the early 70s and riffs on the local biguine rhythm to haunting effect.
Unlike reggae and ska from Jamaica, or soca and calypso from Trinidad, the music of Haiti remains relatively unfamiliar to listeners abroad. Which isn’t to say that it’s lacking at all in depth of history or quality, in fact quite the opposite. Having included selections from Haiti on his Sofrito collections on Strut (and of course, possessing a deep knowledge of Caribbean music of the 60’s & 70’s), Hugo Mendez is the perfect selector to introduce the music of Haiti to listeners interested in investigating the country’s musical legacy.
Haiti Direct is one of the first internationally available in-depth explorations of the vibrant and varied colors of Haiti’s music from the early ‘60s to the late ‘70s. The collection celebrates the overlooked musical legacy of Haiti, going beyond Ra-ra and voodoo stereotypes to trace the development of a unique sound that echoed across the Caribbean. Listeners will find selections of classic material from the early days of groups such as Tabou Combo and Les Freres Déjean as well as rarities from lesser known groups – bringing together the sound of Compas with Latin workouts, psychedelic experiments and the Cuban influenced Twoubadou singers that continued to be a key part of the fabric of Haitian musical life.
Haiti Direct will be available January 14th 2014 on 2 x CD, 2 x LP & digital download, featuring in-depth liner notes and interviews with some of the musicians and producers that shaped the sound.
1. IBO COMBO – TI GAÇON
2. LES VIKINGS – CHOC VIKINGS
3. LES ANIMATEURS – TI MACHINE
4. LES LOUPS NOIRS – PILE OU FACE
5. RODRIGUE MILIEN ET SON GROUPE COMBITE CREOLE – 6ÈME LEÇON
6. LES FANTAISISTES DE CARREFOUR – PANNO CAYE NAN BOIS CHÊNE
7. BOSSA COMBO – LINE
8. LES PACHAS DU CANAPÉ VERT – DÉSORDRE MUSICAL
9. TI PARIS ET SA GUITARE – COCHON ST. ANTOINE
10. GROUPE LES CHLEU-CHLEU – COMPAS X
11. RA RA DE LÉOGANE – GADE MOUNE YO
12. TABOU COMBO – CE PAS
13. LES DIFFICILES DE PÉTION-VILLE – AN SEPTIÈME
14. LES FRÈRES DEJEAN – PACKARD
15. TRIO SELECT – ENSEMBLE SELECT EN ACTION
1. RAOUL GUILLAUME – MAL ÉLEVÉ
2. SUPER JAZZ DES JEUNES – COTE MOUNE YO
3. PIERRE BLAIN ET ORCHESTRE MURAT PIERRE – JOUC LI JOU
4. ENSEMBLE MERIDIONAL DES CAYES – CALMA PÈLERIN
5. ENSEMBLE ETOILE DU SOIR – MESSE QUATRE HEURES
6. NEMOURS JEAN-BAPTISTE – TI CAROLE
7. ORCHESTRE SEPTENTRIONAL – BAPTÊME RATT
8. LES AMBASSADEURS – HOMENAJE A LOS AMBAJADORES
9. CARIBBEAN SEXTET – SUSPAN’N
10. DJET-X – JIVE TURKEY
11. LES SHLEU SHLEU – CRAPAUD
12. SCORPIO UNIVERSEL – TI LU LU PE
13. ORCHESTRE TROPICANA D’HAITI – POUN PACIANCE