Two new releases by Haiti’s hottest live acts
By Steve Desrosiers, Contributing Editor
Jan. 11, 2010
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.
Given the current state of the American economy, it is hard enough for established bands to entice concert-goers on a regular basis, let alone new bands. Yet that is exactly what the industry’s latest baby, Chalet Mizik, has managed to do with its well-received freshman effort.
Bandleader and lead singer Bono has much to do with the growing popularity of the album having endured a 19 year internship in the business working with artists like Tabou Combo’s Dof Chancy and Freres Dejean’s Ti-Polis. Bono’s musical journey included brief stints with bands like New York All Stars and Zel. The lessons this Gonaives native learned during his adventures are all on display on this release.
Chale Mizik’s Mme Bruno is aiming for the hearts of lovers of modern Konpa Direk. The band’s music strikes close in sound and texts to the product of bands like Miami’s Zenglen and Nu-Look. This kinship is immediately apparent in songs like “Separasyon”, a dance and radio friendly ballad effectively served by Bono’s sonorous vocals. This song is rendered more potent with heavy grooves and an inventive rhyme.
The album’s lead track, “Yo Pap Marie”, armed to the teeth with catchy slogans and some sweet harmonies is full of the heavy swing that may give industry leaders like Djakout Mizik a run for their money. Other memorable pieces include the melodious “Kenbe” which features some fine moments on guitar from Makarios Cesaire of New York All Stars fame, the Spanish versed, “Te Qierro Asi” and I wouldn’t be a good Capois if I didn’t mention Tropic-ally styled “Mona Lisa”.
Chale Mizik’s, “Mme Bruno” is a delightful surprise. One doesn’t expect such passion from any band’s first release. There are some rough edges on a few of the album’s songs and it does suffer in places from wordiness but none of these demerits take from the album’s basketful of charms. The backing harmonies alone make this release worthwhile but don’t take my word for it, the album was voted “Best New Album” last July by the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Chale Mizik has already shared billing with popular bands like Zin and manned New York hotspots like SoB’s and Brasserie Creole. On January 9 the band is scheduled to test its metal against System Band in Philly, so think about it, it may be worth the trip.
Chale’s “Mme Bruno” is mustard seed planted in the industry’s good soil. Will it grow into the strongest tree in the forest? A suivre! Meanwhile, calling all dancers, this one’s for you!
The industry’s hottest act has finally released its much-anticipated live album. “Kapote” is a collection of 10 long running versions of hits from the band’s first release and is the product of a collaboration between the Nouvel Jenerasyon and Harmony Records labels.
About a year ago Harmonik released, “Jere’m” and set its sights on forging a path to the top of the industry’s food chain. One year later, it is apparent that Nickenson Prud’homme’s brainchild is well on its way to doing just that. At that time the Boston Haitian Reporter predicted this band would seriously influence the future sound of the Miami based Konpa scene. Songs like “Harmonize’n”, “Obsede”, and more successfully merged key elements of the best of modern American and Haitian music. The sound was full, new and further the album cut no corners where musicianship was concerned. So, is this live album a step closer to our ultimate expectations?
I had the distinct pleasure of hearing the band live in its home turf in Hollywood, Miami a few months back. I walked in and was immediately blown away by the quality of Mizik Mizik’s “Irvington” – one of my favorite songs - being played to the hilt. Once I got my anxious hands on this CD I went straight to track 4 and am happy to report “Irvington” is a live bouncing baby boy with ten talented fingers and ten toes full of groove. The live rendition of “Kompassion” should not be heard while driving; its menacing swing will lead your hands off the steering wheel too many times to guarantee the safety of other drivers! The pace and passion these guys infuse in “Harmonize’n” is beyond words! Lead singer Mac D’s stand-out performance on “Obsede” is the kind of event seldom captured on live Konpa releases.
And about those expectations of ours? Let’s just say our faith was well placed. The release is not perfect and the band’s need for additional tightening where vocal harmonies and key breaks are concerned is evident in a few songs. The album’s overall mix is decent and could have survived a little less polish but that’s the Miami way. Mac D’s odes to the late Michael Jackson in the intros of “Di’m kisa and “Obsede” are well done and particularly touching. Nickenson and his celestial fingers are in fine form throughout this release and his passion is matched by a talented cast of musicians. “Kapote” is simply the best live release a Haitian band has placed on the market to date!
The industry has a gold mine in its hands with Harmonik. Get you a shovel and start diggin’ homie!
The Reporter Thanks:
Patrick St. Germain of International Perfumes and Discount for availing the CDs for review. The releases are available at 860 Morton Street Dorchester, MA (617) 825-6151.