Music Reviews

Boston's own Lisa Moise offers sweet treat to the ears

Lisa MoiseLisa MoiseLisa Moise
Boite de Chocolat

Boston’s own Lisa Moise recently released a first effort for the hearts and minds of music lovers. The independently released “Boite de Chocolat” features 10 original compositions all of which are manned by a cast of talented local musicians and producers.

It’s been a while since we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing the work of a local artist and we’re happy Lisa’s release provides a chance to prominently feature a homegrown product. Boite de Chocolat being among the few releases from a female artist this year is special because Lisa represents a new generation of young women coming into the scene who may be poised to continue the work of the many fine and unsung female artists who have made serious contributions to Haiti’s expansive library of music.

“Boite de Chocolat” truly is a sweet and varied adventure in sound. The performances that stand out on this release include the acoustic-pop-hip-hop “Chanje” a song with a distinctly American instrumental bent but sung in Haitian Kreyol and enunciated with an American finesse that very few singers are able to pull off effectively. Read more

Coupe Cloue: Haiti’s musical Santa delivered in ‘12

We usually reserve Christmas reviews for new releases but as this season promises to be lean on that end we’ll take a look back to celebrate an artist who was Haiti’s musical Santa. This year, we celebrate the memorable releases of artist Coupe Cloue. In many ways Gesner Henry aka “Coupe Cloue” was Haiti’s version of American Funk pioneer James Brown - an artist whose talents were such that he not only mastered the commercial trends of his day but eventually transcended them to concoct his own inimitable sonic cocktail. Read more

Fidel gives Konpa fans a reason to invest in their future

FidelFidelFidel has made its official entry as one of the industry’s ambitious new bands. The group’s first release, “Avel li Fel” boasts a modest 10 original compositions and is an independent release.

Much of the buzz around Fidel stems from the adventures or misadventures of lead singer Dabenz Chery. Dabenz honed his pipes as a feature of some of the industry’s better known bands including the likes of Zenglen, System and the short-lived Canada based Oxygen to name a few. The events that led to his association and eventual disassociation from the better known among the groups are fodder that now serves the curiosity factor that may lead to sales and decent concert turn-outs in the coming months. Beyond the Dabenz factor, a charismatic figure like Patrick Appollon (Zin’s former drummer) being in the official line up is sure to help the expansion of the Fidel’s fan base. Read more

Dola Mizik delivers the goods in sophomore release

Dola Mizik
New York Time

We’ve been waiting for a sophomore release from one of New York’s talented musical acts and are happy the album, “New York Time” is here at last. Dola’s latest independent release features a modest 12 original pieces. Read more

Wanito proves untapped potential of Haiti’s youth

Wanito albumWanito albumSinger, songwriter Wanito is Haiti’s latest folk/pop sensation. The artist has been stirring the scene with his thoughtfully penned songs for a few years now and we have finally laid hands on his first release, “Biyografi Mwen” – a 10 song journey backed by a progressive c American music organizations PeaceTones — which promotes "fair trade" music.

I usually reserve this part of my writing to talk about the artist but he does a fine job on track #3 of the release. Let’s talk about Wanito’s backers, Peacetones — an organization that is trying to usher in new business models to support and promote today’s serious musicians. Read more

K-Mistry enters Boston into Konpa sweepstakes

KMistryKMistryKMistry
“It’s My Life”

Boston’s music fans have been hoping for local talent to impact the mainstream Konpa scene and it seems their prayers might be answered with our latest local sensation - the band – K-Mistry!. The group’s first album “It’s My Life” is currently available in a store near you and this independent release boasts a generous 14 original compositions.

K-Mistry has been making moves locally all winter throughout greater Boston. They’ve paired up with Djakout Mizik, T-Micky and Kreyol-La to give fans a taste of their talent and it seems they’ve garnered quite a local following so far. The formation was born in 2009 when young musicians - Riccardi Rene (Keys), Alex Mathieu (Band leader/Bassist), Clarence Rene (Lead vocals), Willenz Altenor (Lead vocals), Yves Eliscar (guitar), Stanley Jeudi (Keys), Abdias Derisme (Percussion), Kevin Merisier (Drums) and Wilgens Joseph (Congas) – combined their talents to pursue their musical ambitions. Read more

Jazz trumpeter Jean Caze blends American, Haitian sounds

Jean CazeJean CazeJean Caze
Miami Jazz Scene

The world of Haitian Jazz has known about Jean Caze for some time now and while his first release is not what we would call new, it is not well known to the Haitian public.

The album, “Miami Jazz Scene” debuted a few years ago but is hard to find. The Reporter was able to get its hands on a copy of this 9 composition long indie release.

Jean has been quietly making the rounds in the Haitian and non-Haitian New York and Miami based Jazz scene for a while. If you are among those who follow artists in this all-too-quiet realm of the Haitian music industry, you know he has toured with the Zekle reunion project and is prominently featured on their video of a great live performance at Haiti’s Parc Historique de la Canne a Sucre. He has also been a part of the fine albums of former Mozayik percussionist Markus Schwartz and can also be found gigging with the likes of Reginald Policard in Haiti’s Jazz fest. Every once in a while he’s recruited by the likes of Djakout Mizik to fill out their horn section. Read more

Gabel delivers the real deal; T-Micky impresses in debut

GabelGabelGabel
“Gon Jan Pou Ye”

The restless band Gabel returns with a fresh batch of songs in their latest effort for the hearts of concert goers. The album, “Gon Jan Pou Ye” is an independent release hosting 14 original compositions from one of the industry’s up and coming ensembles.

Gabel is earning its keep the old fashioned way. Whatever they’ve enjoyed in terms of fame or success has been the result of relentless effort on their part. They’ve learned from their lackluster albums and gradually produced better products. They’ve spent an incredible amount of energy on the road playing before diverse audiences and effectively showcasing their adventures on industry websites. They’ve yet to lock in the hit album that will catapult them fully into the mainstream but one thing time on the road gives any commercial artist is some significant insights on what their audiences want. So far, Gabel’s slogans are more popular than their songs; can the new album change all that? Read more

In Remembrance of Lenord Fortune, “Azor”

Lenord "Azor" Fortune (1965-2011)Lenord "Azor" Fortune (1965-2011)The old saying is Tanbou frappe, Haitien kanpe —or “when the drum’s struck, Haitians stand!” That’s been the case for us throughout the many years that Racine percussionist Lenord Fortune, or “Azor”, used his talents in music to carve a national and international path for Haiti’s roots tradition.

The Island does not lack for talented percussionists but Azor - like his renowned predecessor, “Ti Roro”- could make the drums talk, sing, scream, shout and - sometimes, even whisper. His amazing ability with a hand drum was only matched by his astounding talent as a vocalist.

His videos were celebrations of the sounds, colors and movements of the African in Haitians. He set his scenes on Haiti’s lush mountains and its vibrant waterfalls and sung the trials and tribulations of his native land in plain-worded truths. He was a rarity among his kind – a “tambourineur” who was as comfortable in an “all vocals” acoustic setting and equally at peace with the best of Haiti’s electric music traditions. Read more

On the Trail with Michel Martelly: From Sweet Micky to Presidential Contender

Martelly campaigns in BostonMartelly campaigns in BostonWe know him best as “Sweet Micky”, a talented musician whose wild stage antics brought an element of shock to Haitian entertainment. In the late 1980s, he started out as any one of a number of notable Haitian talents and went simply by his name, Michel Martelly. Michel’s career began with the success of early releases with fun titles like, “Woule, Woule”, “Anba Rad La”, “The Sweetest” etc. However, real fame and international success came with the creation of a sub-identity “Sweet Micky”. It was the wild and uninhibited Micky that became a household name among Haitians. Sweet Micky’s irreverent style, controversial albums and frequent feuds with rival bands, made Michel Martelly wealthy and famous.

Martelly came into the Haitian music industry during turbulent times. In the early 1990s, the Island was in political free-fall after the ouster of the Duvalier regime. The populace had democratically elected a progressive yet controversial former priest, Jean Bertrand Aristide and within a year he was exiled by Haiti’s military. Haiti’s popular music Konpa, was struggling as a new generation preferred the sound of Zouk, which had its origins in Guadeloupe and Martinique. Michel Martelly’s act was one among a new generation of artists that met the challenge of Zouk by using technology to reduce the man-power it took to man live Konpa shows and moved its sound into the new digital format. Read more

Gazzman Couleur’s new group Disip doesn’t disappoint

The talented singer/songwriter and former Nu-Look front-man, Gazzman Couleur, has unleashed his highly anticipated release with new band, “Disip”. The album hosts 13 original compositions and was backed by Miami based Tropikal Records.
The announcement of Gazzman’s sudden split with his former Nu-Look band mates in early 2010 shook the Haitian music industry to its core. While it was known among insiders that there were strained relations between Nu-Look’s leaders, no one foresaw the extent of Gazzman’s dissatisfaction with co-leader and vocalist Arly. Apparently, Gazzman had long been planning his exit strategy as no sooner did he announce his departure from new look, rumors soon surfaced that he was well underway to forming a new group with yet another former Nu-Look member, guitarist – Gabriel Laporte. Soon thereafter the name of the group was broadcast on industry websites and promoters jumped at the chance to capitalize on the interest generated by the dissolution of one of the industry’s most popular partnerships.   Read more

Morse code: The man behind the amazing Twitter updates from Haiti

After coming to some terms with the human scale of the current disaster in Haiti it dawned on me that some, all or most of our artistic treasures might be destroyed right now. The Centre D’Art, the murals of Bigaud in St. Trinite, the Presidential Palace itself (a gift from the US) and many other places. And what of the famous Hotel Oloffson? The place around which Graham Greene’s famous novel on Haiti “The Comedians” took shape and which also served as the center piece for the Hollywood film by the same name. Amazingly, the sturdy wood-frame Hotel, stood its ground during the 38 seconds it took for most of Port-au-Prince’s brick structures to collapse.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, the Oloffson’s manager lo these past 25 years, Richard A. Morse was among Haiti’s few links to the outside world. He moved his guests from their rooms to the hotel driveway for the night and kept busy documenting the developing situation on Twitter (@RAMHaiti). The world’s news organizations immediately locked into his accounts and pestered him for more information and the permission to share his growing narrative with their publications. Read more

Two new releases by Haiti’s hottest live acts

Chale MizikChale MizikChale Mizik
Mme Bruno
Miami-based Chale Mizik ranks high among the Haitian music industry’s roster of new bands. The group’s first release, “Mme Bruno” is a 14-song collection of original material. The album is an independent release. Read more

Michael's Legacy: Jackson 5, MJ had huge impact in Haiti

You’ll probably never forget where you were or what you were doing when you heard the news. I was sneaking a little time on Facebook enjoying a conversation with a fellow musician who was gigging in Switzerland.
We were enjoying a nice chat when she suddenly typed “They’re saying Michael Jackson’s dead?”
Of course, active consumer of American media that I am, I immediately thought it was half-true and that Michael was probably sick. Too young to die! No way. We haven’t seen each other in a while, but we’re growing old together. Read more

Kreyol-Rap crew make impressive debut on Wyclef’s label

Barikad Crew
Jisko Bou (Til the end)

Haiti’s Rap-Kreyol community has a lot to celebrate with the release of Barikad Crew’s (BC) “Jisko Bou”. The talented young MCs 'repping Port-au-Prince’s downtrodden working class hoods now boast a mainstream album backed by Wyclef Jean’s Sak-Pase Records. Read more