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Sunday, February 17, 2013

CD Review: Vo-Duo - Nou La

Monvelyno Alexis – Guitar/Vocals; Markus Schwartz – Percussion
(Review by Steve)
Nou La is the first album by Vo-Duo and draws on the traditional Haitian Voodoo tradition for it’s content both lyrically and musically. All songs are sung in local language Kreyol although helpfully the liner notes translate all the lyrics into English. The practice of Voodoo in Haiti originates from the time of West African enslavement  and in the past this album may have been labelled patronisingly as World music but this is Afro-Haitian Jazz.
  Monvelyno Alexis was born in Haiti and is a student of folk arts besides being a poet and mult talented musician.  Schwartz born in Denmark has practiced the art of Haitian drumming for over 20 years. The pair came together after meeting in New York’s Jazz scene and recorded this album in Brooklyn last year.
The album begins with an a cappella track Bonjou welcoming us all to Vo-Duo. The second track Alegba Gran Chemin has a real jazz feel to it and is a call to the spirits for help for the struggling country Haiti. The next song Pale Mal (Bad Talk) is a sweet rhythmic rolling tune with great backing harmonies from Schwartz. This is followed by Kouzen a sad song with moving vocals and great jazzy guitar from Alexis. Track 5 Wongol is  a soft melodic number lamenting that ‘the spirit’ has left and Haiti is now damaged.  This is followed by Frelele (The Struggle)  again focusing on the hardships befallen Haiti and features some almost scat like vocals towards the end of the track. Simbi Makaya is more up tempo with a recognisable Jazz guitar feel and deals with the magical spirit as it enters the cemetery. The penultimate song Zilibo is a lively song with a great beat. The final number Gede Man Lajan  a song about the spirits helping to rebuild the country and has some really mellow vocals from Alexis accompanied by sympathetic percussion from Schwartz.
This is a passionate and moving album focusing on a country that has been ravaged by many disasters but  although the content is heavy the music is bright, rhythmic and full of hope for the future.
Steve.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Very good review Steve! Thanks.

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