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Èzili

by Makandal

On this album we fuse sacred Afro-Haitian song and drumming (Vodou music) with jazz (trumpet, trombone, sax, bass).
Genre: World: World Fusion
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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. Lapriyè
La Troupe Makandal
2:30 album only
clip
2. Ayizan
La Troupe Makandal
5:15 album only
clip
3. Parigòl
La Troupe Makandal
5:10 album only
clip
4. Papa Gede
La Troupe Makandal
6:31 album only
clip
5. Èzili
La Troupe Makandal
4:56 album only
clip
6. Nago
La Troupe Makandal
6:08 album only
clip
7. Ibo
La Troupe Makandal
3:45 album only
clip
8. Kongo
La Troupe Makandal
8:55 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Èzili
An Album Guide, by Dr. Lois Wilcken

Makandal
with Master Drummer Frisner Augustin

Vodou Jazz from Haïti and New York

Lapriyè (1:55)
Ayizan (5:12)
Parigòl (5:10)
Papa Gede (6:31)
Èzili (4:53)
Nago (6:08)
Ibo (3:42)
Kongo (8:58)

Frisner Augustin, lead drum, lead vocal
Steve Deats, second drum
Steve White, third drum
Paul Newman, percussion
Jacques François, trumpet
Tim Newman, trombone
Christopher Zimmerman, tenor sax
Danny Pera, bass
Janine Brillant, vocal
Joel Désir, vocal
Loving Desrosiers, vocal
Josette Foreste, vocal
Maggie Foreste, vocal
Thirtsa Foreste, vocal
Jean Paul Joseph, vocal
Ermilia Mardy, vocal

Arrangements by Frisner Augustin, Harry Leroy, Tim Newman, and Steve White
Engineering by Harry Leroy at Maniax Sound Arts

Cover photo by Fuminori Sato, design by Dr. Lois

The Fire Tape
(This section adapted from Tales from the Archive, a blog series at Makandal's website, makandal dot org, posted 25 Nov 2015.)

His hands gripped the steering wheel as he cut his eyes off the road to fix them on me. "The tape." I didn't have to wonder what Frisner was talking about. In the summer of 1986 Makandal had been hard at work in rehearsal and then the studio to make its second music album, Erzili. Together with audio engineer Harry Leroy, we had finished both recording and mixing. Although it was customary to leave the master tape with the engineer, Frisner had insisted on taking home both the pre-mix (with tracks separated) and the final stereo mix. He stored them on a high—almost to the ceiling—shelf in the bedroom. I had just passed through that room before going out to find Frisner and break the disquieting news that half our apartment—including the bedroom—had gone up in flames while we were both away. I came home to the disaster first, and when it was safe, I toured the charred chaos. The pungent odor of smoke and images of belongings scorched beyond recognition filled my senses now, as I struggled to remember. Yes, the tape. What had become of Erzili?

In 1986 we were living at 189 St. Marks Avenue in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. I recall how the mother of our Haitian landlady raced up and down the halls on February 7 screaming, "Duvalier ale!" ("Duvalier is gone!") Baby Doc had fled Haiti. We played two community events that spring, one focusing on the changes in Haiti. We also landed our first engagement with World Music Institute at Washington Square Church in Manhattan. The United States meanwhile celebrated the centennial of the Statue of Liberty, an occasion that won us a contract to play three days straight through the Fourth of July weekend at Battery Park. On Sunday, August 10, the Caribbean Cultural Center presented us in the Damrosch Park Bandshell along with eleven other groups at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors' Caribbean Music Day. We beat the drums on instruments that would perish the next day.

Through it all, Frisner planned his Erzili album. Using his own resources, but with help from Harry Leroy and producer Joel Pierre, he organized an ensemble of his own band plus a new crop of dancers that choreographer Joel Désir had brought into Makandal. The dancers would provide vocals. With seven songs totaling thirty-nine minutes, Erzili showcased Frisner's adventures in Vodou jazz. The artists' list tells part of the story: Frisner Augustin, master drum, lead vocal; Steve Deats, second drum; Steve White, third drum; Paul Newman, percussion; Harry Leroy, synthesizer; Jacques François, trumpet; Tim Newman, trombone; Christopher Zimmerman, tenor sax; Danny Pera, bass; and Janine Brillant, Joel Désir, Loving Desrosiers, Josette Foreste, Maggie Foreste, Thirtsa Foreste, Jean Paul Joseph, and Ermilia Mardy, vocals.

Through some feat of magic, the Erzili tape escaped the flames. As soon as we arrived at our lost digs—we moved out by the end of the week—Frisner recovered both tapes from the shelf near the ceiling. The final mix, sitting on top of the heavy box that held the pre-mix, had melted like a big chocolate drop in the tropical sun. We found the pre-mix intact and returned it to Leroy for re-mixing. Perhaps her affinity for water saved Èzili Freda that day. An imposing statue representing her sister, fire queen Èzili Dantò, had served as centerpiece on Frisner's Vodou altar in the next room. We found no trace of the statue. But then, she was in her element. And the darling of our next album was in hers.

Vodou and Its Sacred Performing Arts

While most observers believe that Vodou means "spirit," a meaning derived from the West African fongbe language, specialists have broadened the definition to include calm in the face of difficulty, respect for nature, and the unknowable force behind and beyond all others. Those of us who have observed and participated in Vodou, either as initiates or their friends, understand the inaccuracy of the negative meanings that distort popular culture—cannibalism, murder by means of effigies (voodoo dolls), or the theft of the soul that renders one a zombie. On the contrary, Vodou honors the dead, celebrates the living, and heals both individuals and communities. In a singular and superb historical moment, it helped liberate a people. Best yet, Vodou accomplishes all of this with art: song, dance, drumming, theater, and vibrant images.

Master Drummer Frisner Augustin (1948-2012), principal creator of the Èzili album, learned his art in the Vodou temples of his community. As a drummer he benefitted from a black consciousness movement that valorized Vodou for the first time in Haiti's history and gave birth to a variety of new performance genres. Choreographer André Germain discovered Augustin in a temple and presented him to the movers and shakers of the capital's arts scene: Lina Mathon Blanchet, Jackie Duroseau, Viviane Gauthier, and Lavinia Williams. Playing with folklore companies and Vodou jazz ensembles broadened Augustin's experience and his musical style. When he moved to New York in 1972, his musical content and style broadened further within the city's cosmopolitan culture. Along with Alphonse Cimber and Louis Celestin, Augustin pioneered Vodou music in New York on a continuum that ran from pure temple drumming to jamming with jazz artists Kip Hanrahan and Andrew Cyrille. As Artistic Director of La Troupe Makandal he developed the brand of Vodou jazz that this album captures.

Vodou Jazz

Vodou and jazz share tangled roots. People of various African ancestries converged in Place Congo, New Orleans, around the turn of the nineteenth century as their French slave masters fled the black revolution in St. Domingue (Haiti's colonial name). Their numbers included musicians and dancers who had contributed to the amalgamation of African faiths that constituted Haitian Vodou. As doubly forced migrants, they continued to perform at Sunday jam sessions in Place Congo through the nineteenth century. Scholars widely recognize Place Congo as a crucible of modern North American jazz.

We should not consider jazz, then, as a North American import into Haiti. When the United States occupied the nation (1915-34) and the Marines introduced recordings of jazz, musicians and fans naturally gravitated toward something akin to what they already had. Following the occupation, the black consciousness movement mentioned above explored ways of incorporating the melodies and rhythms of Vodou song and drumming into performing arts genres, including jazz. The group Jazz des Jeunes, modeled after the big band while incorporating Vodou musical forms and instruments, became the official ensemble of the National Folkloric Company in 1949. The group arrived in New York in 1972, with Frisner Augustin as one of its Vodou drummers.

Jazz continues to flourish in Haiti today. Musicians Joel and Mushy Widmaier organize the annual Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival, and jazz guitarist Claude Carré actively promotes education in jazz for Haitian youth through his Haiti Jazz Club and the Haiti Jazz Foundation. Most jazz artists active in the country today, and most Haitian jazz musicians active in the diaspora, find new and creative ways to keep the Vodou–jazz marriage alive.

About Èzili
(First paragraph quoted from Tales from the Archive, a blog series at makandal dot org, posted 19 Oct 2015.)

"She’s a coquette, a spirit woman reportedly of fair complexion, although she’s been known to inhabit every hue. When she leaves the luster and magic of Ginen to take possession of a human medium—to the heartbeat of drums, the sweet meander of melody, the seductive sway of dancing bodies—she fixes her wide and tender eyes only on the men. She’s vulnerable and prone to weep, but when you serve her with all your heart, she responds in kind with the nurturing power of love. Èzili…"

The Vodou pantheon is populated by lwa (spirits) of many types and temperaments. Each represents a force of nature or human nature. What would such a family be without the feminine presence? Two women particularly stand out: Èzili Freda Dawome and Èzili Dantò. The former came to Haiti from the Gulf of Guinea region, specifically, modern Togo and Benin; the latter from the Congo River Basin. Why have two Èzili? First, because the two primary ancestral places of origin just mentioned (Guinea, Congo) need balanced representation in the social memory; and second, because each tells a reciprocal story about female power. To elaborate, Èzili Freda exhibits the tender touch, as detailed in the paragraph quoted above from Makandal's blog. Èzili Dantò offers tough love, the aggressive side of nurturing that explains the two scars on her right cheek (sustained in a battle during the Haitian revolution) and the dagger that she demands when in possession of a servant. The Èzili, in short, represent complementary sides of the eternal feminine, one of which cannot exist without the other. They paint a complete picture.

This album honors the sweet woman, Èzili Freda Dawome. Frisner Augustin married both of the Èzili in a Vodou dance in the Bronx on October 21, 1973, not quite a year after coming to New York. His marriage certificate with Freda survived; we never found one for Dantò among Frisner's possessions after his passing. We suspect that it went up in flames along with the Dantò statue during the infamous Fire of 1986 (see opening story above). The tape for Freda did survive the fire (again, story above), a testament to the infinite power of tender love.

About the Artists

In 1973 a group of young artists from the neighborhood of Belair in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, formed La Troupe Makandal, naming it after a renowned eighteenth-century revolutionary and mystic. They created a repertory that drew from Haiti’s revolutionary legacy, and from oral tradition around the figure of their namesake. The company left Haiti in 1981 and regrouped in Brooklyn, New York, where it attracted new artists, both Haitians and friends of Haiti who are inspired by the company’s dedication to black history and culture. Most significantly, compatriot Frisner Augustin, resident in New York since 1972, became its Artistic Director during Makandal's first year in the city.

By 1986 two of the original eight artists who brought the company to New York had passed away, and two left the Troupe for jobs that were too distant or too demanding. Augustin replaced, but also expanded the corps. Drummers Steve Deats, Steve White, and Paul Newman began to study with Augustin in late 1983 and soon became part of the ensemble, and they introduced Paul's brother Tim (trombone) and Danny Pera (bass guitar) in the spring of 1984 to help with the maestro's aspirations in jazz. In early 1986 dancer Joel Désir introduced a group of young Haitian women who were studying dance with him in a Flatbush basement. Two went on to dance in the company, and Augustin recruited all to sing on the Èzili album: Thirtsa Foreste (often in the lead with Frisner), her sisters Josette and Maggie, Janine Brillant, and Loving Desrosiers. Steve White introduced his partner Ermilia Mardy as a dancer, and she contributed her marvelous Vodou voice to the LP as well. Haitian trumpeter Jacques François and German saxophonist Chris Zimmerman, both of whom played with the troupe on occasion, completed the lineup.

The company continued to evolve and serve the public with performances and educational programs that linked Haitian history and culture, challenged ingrained stereotypes, and preserved and developed the remarkable music and dance traditions of Haiti and the Haitian community of New York City. It distinguished itself in the United States and abroad for its theatrical representations of Vodou. Master Drummer Frisner Augustin went on to win several significant awards, including induction into City Lore's People's Hall of Fame (1998) and an NEA Heritage Fellowship (1999). Since Maestro Augustin's passing in 2012, Makandal has endeavored to keep the spirit of his legacy alive in ongoing educational and performance services. The Èzili album belongs to the Frisner Augustin Memorial Archive, and proceeds from its sale will help keep the work and the spirit alive.

The Songs

Vodou songs challenge the translator. Lapriyè (track one) in particular abounds in langaj, archaic words taken from a range of ancestral African tongues. I have kept langaj in the English translation. For discussion of concepts behind some langaj phrases, see Beauvoir, Max G., Lapriyè Ginen, Educa Vision Inc., 2004.

Often the Kreyòl—multivalent and rich in ambiguity—can be equally difficult to render in English. This author acknowledges the assistance of Makini Armand and Kesler Pierre in translating the Krik? Krak! routine at the beginning of "Kongo" (track 8), and Dr. Marie Lily Cérat for her translations of phrases in "Parigòl" (track 3) and "Nago" (track 6). Mr. Pierre also identified the popular songs quoted near the end of "Kongo."

(1) Lapriyè The all-night Vodou dans (dance, party for the spirits) begins with a long series of concatenated chants, a cappella at first and then to the accompaniment of drum rolls. This track excerpts two chants ("Anonse O Zanj nan Dlo" and "Nou Tout Se Zanj") and the beginning of a litany ("Eya Gran Pè Etènèl"). Frisner adds a new twist to the litany by substituting people from various Haitian cities for spirit names, e.g., "Eya tout pèp Gonayiv" ("Eya, all the Gonaïves people") instead of "Eya Jezikri" ("Eya, Jesus Christ"). Note the repetition in call-and-response/solo-chorus form, typical of all Vodou singing.

Anonse o zanj nan dlo, bak o sou miwa, l a wè l a wè (2x)
Anba nan Vilokan e, Kreyòl mande chanjman

Announcing the angels in the water, the ship on the mirror, she'll see, he'll see (2x)
Below in Vilokan, the Creole seeks transformation

~~~~~

Nou tout se zany o, zany anbarase mwen (2x)
Danbala Wedo, Ayida Wedo
Nou tout se zany o, zany anbarase mwen

We are all spirits, spirits surround me (2x)
Danbala Wedo, Ayida Wedo
We are all spirits, spirits surround me

~~~~~

Eya Gran Pè Etènèl
Sen Djò, eya Gran Pè Etènèl, Sen Djò Loko Agwe
Eya Gran Pè Etènèl la vi n nan men Bondye o sen yo

Eya, Great Eternal Father
Sen Djò, come Great Eternal Father, Sen Djò, Loko, Agwe
Eya Great Eternal Father, our lives are in the hands of Good God and the spirits

(2) Ayizan The Vodou lwa Ayizan sometimes appears as queen of markets and public places, but she most often manifests as the one who nurtures and protects novices during the initiation process. Her rites include the chire ayizan, a visually stunning shredding of palm fronds—her attribute and a symbol of purity. The vocals and instruments exchange the melody several times in the yanvalou style before the music shifts to zepòl (with excursions into dawome) at 3 min, 21 sec. Horns shift into another song for Ayizan, closing with a jazzy sax solo by Chris Zimmerman over Augustin's daring drum breaks.

Ayizan e, Ayizan e yo pa wè Lesen Gwo Lwa (x)
Ayizan e lese koule
Ayizan e lese koule papa
Sogbagi Sobo jou m tonbe m al leve sov lanmò

Ayizan, Ayizan, they don't see the great sacred spirit
Ayizan, let it go
Ayizan, let it flow
Sogbagi Sobo, each time I fall, I will rise, except when death strikes

(3) Parigòl Like yanvalou, zepòl, and dawome that we heard in Track 2, the parigòl style of Vodou music belongs to a West African family of styles called rada—probably a corruption of Allada, a city in Benin. Hear how the bell pattern is common to all four styles, but how the master drum distinguishes them. Some in Vodou call the style twa rigòl, meaning three streams, but it might also mean, literally, "step of the stream," because the dance that this music works with evokes undulating water. The second song in this set of three (heard at 2 min, 47 sec) calls Lasirenn (the siren), spirit of the sea. Meanings, however, are not so simple. The first song remembers Mirabeau (a name from the French Revolution) and the plots and intrigues of the Haitian Revolution; the last makes reference to the fertility of the land.

Mirabo, men moun yo lonmen non mwen (2)
Yo fè afè pase kò yo se vre (2x)
M poko rive Jouda yo la sou do mwen

Mirabeau, look at the people cursing my name (2x)
They don't know when to stop, it's true (2x)
I haven't arrived yet, and those traitors are blaming me

~~~~~

Sirenn o se mwen Balenn o (2x)
Nanpwen anyen pase Bondye nan peyi a
Sirenn dyaman se mwen Balenn k ap kòmande

Siren, oh, it's me! Whale, oh! (2x)
Nothing surpasses God in this country
Siren, diamond, it's me, the Whale is in command

~~~~~

Pye mayi a sa nou fè sou tè a
Makandal bon oungan w a kite wo a ba yo

The cornstalks we grow on the land
Makandal, good priest, you'll let them be

(4) Papa Gede The Gede nation of Haitian Vodou might have come to Haiti with the Ghédévi clan, descendants of the original people of the Abomey plateau in modern Benin. As the first and most ancient people of the region, they represented the dead. Haitian Vodou has maintained this association with death, although the Gede stand for resurrection as well, suggesting an ancient belief in reincarnation. The Gedes' reputation for eroticism and saucy humor has made them a favorite among the lwa. The songs featured here describe their unique attire—long tailcoat, sunglasses, tall black hat, and walking stick in the first song (yanvalou style). Haitians recognize the second (ibo style) as a very old song that a group of Vodou priests re-enacted in the 1920s when, possessed by Gede, they visited President Borno in the National Palace to demand money. The song states that when Gede wears white, he looks like a deputy, and when he wears black, he looks like a more distinguished senator. In the heels of the 1986 uprising that brought down the Duvalier regime and replaced the red and black of the Duvalier flag with the original red and blue, Frisner Augustin re-wrote the lyrics to what you see below—a comment on the fallen dictatorship that drew delighted applause from audiences in New York.

Papa Gede ki genyen yon jakèt, Gede Nibo ki genyen yon linèt
Papa Gede ki genyen yon chapo, Gede Nibo ki genyen yon baton
Papa, si w wè sa, Papa Gede si w wè sa (2x)

Papa Gede who has a jacket, Gede Nibo who has sunglasses
Papa Gede who has a hat, Gede Nibo who has a cane
Papa, if you see that, Papa Gede if you see that (2x)

~~~~~

Papa Gede bèl gason, Gede Nibo bèl gason
Abiye wouj e ble pou l al monte o palè (2x)
Lè l abiye wouj e ble, li sanble yon prezidan
Lè l abiye wouj e nwa, li sanble mother-fucker (2x)

Papa Gede, handsome guy, Gede Nibo, handsome guy
Wears red and blue to go to the palace (2x)
When he wears red and blue, he looks like a president
When he wears red and black, he looks like a mother-fucker

(5) Èzili The title song of this album evokes smiles and laughter from the women initiates at a Vodou dance, and it pokes a little fun at men as well. The song's narrator warns Èzili Freda Dawome (sketched in a section of her own above) that she will someday lose her mother and father and that this will cause her to weep. She might also lose her husband, but—she can always find another. The message? Unlike parents, lovers are replacable. Throughout the song (played in a mellow yanvalou style), Frisner substitutes his own name for mari (husband) or the more irreverent salòp (bum) that we usually hear in this song. Over the percussion and horn sections he raps on his love for Èzili, and all she's done for him in his career and for Haiti's liberation. He also translates the lyrics into his inimitable English.

Èzili e, yon jou manman w mouri, w ap rele
Èzili e, yon jou papa w mouri, w ap kriye
Yon jou manman w mouri, w ap rele, jou papa w mouri, w ap kriye
Yon jou Frisner ale, w ap jwen yon lòt gason

Èzili, oh, one day your mother will die, you'll weep
Èzili, oh, one day your father will die, you'll cry
One day your mother will die, you'll weep, one day your father will die, you'll cry
One day Frisner will go, you'll find another man

(6) Nago The Anago people left the area that is now Nigeria and migrated to Benin some centuries ago, bringing with them a spiritual nation of blacksmiths and warriors. Haitian Vodou preserves this heritage, calling the nation Nago. The individual lwa within it go by such names as Ogou Batagi, Ogou Balendjo, Ogou Balizaj, and they manifest as powerful fighters who sacrifice all to protect their people. The Anago also recognized Legba, the spiritual gatekeeper for many West Africans, and we hear him greeted in the first song. A Nago lwa, speaking through a priest back in the 1960s, pledged to help and protect Frisner Augustin, and identified as Frisner's mèt tèt (master of the head, a person's dominant lwa). The musical arrangement of this track (all in the nago style) sums up Frisner's personal relationship with Ogou: only Frisner on vocals in conversation with only the trombone; and a persistent bass line playing off the second drum part, just as the second drummer plays off the master drum. The music is minimal, stark yet intimate—four songs and an Augustin rap over the trombone at 3 min, 5 sec. "Hello Papa Ogou, Ogou Batagi, Ogou Balendjo, Ogou Balizaj, Troupe Folklorique Nationale [National Folkloric Troupe]... Makandal remembers you. Here we are. Hello, Gonaïves people. Thank you for all you did for Haitian people."

Legba Gwetò e, ki lwa w ye (2x)
Achade li k ye se pa Nago sa
Legba Gwetò e, ki lwa w ye

Legba Gwetò, oh, what spirit are you? (2x)
It is he, Achade, it is not Nago
Legba Gwetò, oh, what spirit are you?

~~~~~

Anye, Lèmisan o, mwen di e o Lèmiso, anye o Lèmiso
Chemen Nago bouche, o Lèmiso Batala

Oh my! Lèmisan oh! I say oh, oh Lèmiso! Oh my, Lèmiso!
The Nago road is closed, oh Lèmiso Batala!

~~~~~

Awchènago! Nèg Nago di kochè! [Nago interjection]

~~~~~

Tout nasyon genyen defo pa yo, se pa Nago a k ap pase mizè (2x)
Mwen di e, m rele anye (2x)
Men move tèt sa nèg Nago genyen an, n ap rele Bondye pou yo

All nations have their faults, it's not the Nago that is having a hard time
I say "Oh!" I shout "Oh my!"
But that Nago man has a hot head, we're calling on God for them

~~~~~

Achade kan n ape pale o, w a di e nou la e (2x)
Yo di m son kwa, konnen m pa kwa e (2x)
Kan n ape pale, men Frisner, pa lonmen non nou sifè

Achade, when we're speaking, you'll say oh, you are here (2x)
They say I'm a burden, know that I'm not (2x)
When we're speaking, here's Frisner, don't mention our names, indeed!

(7) Ibo The Ibo nation receives less play time in Vodou dances than the Rada or Nago nations, yet every company that represents Vodou before the public includes an Ibo number in its repertory. The unique and defiant character of the Ibo sheds light on their popularity. They came to colonial Haiti from the lower Niger River in southern Nigeria. Africans knew the Ibo (a variant on the Nigerian spelling Igbo) as fine orators and storytellers, but also fiercely proud. The French, and slaveholders in other colonies (like Georgia and South Carolina) came to know them as people who took their own lives rather than serve as slaves. Because of their conviction that suicide would take them back to Africa, Vodou sees them as psychopomps, or soul escorts. In Vodou funerary rites the Ibo lwa preside over the breaking of a clay urn (symbol of the body) that sends the soul back to Ginen (Africa). The song on this track comments on the pride of the Ibo man or woman who sees little value in regret. Note how the call-and-response between voices and instruments—suspended only by a trombone solo at 1 min, 53 sec—cycle in a manner that blurs a leader-follower feel.

Ayaman Ibo Lele, Lele Lele
Ayaman Ibo Lele, ou pile pye m pa di m padon (2x)
Ou pile pye m pa di m padon, sa padon tap fè pou mwen
Ayaman Ibo Lele, Lele Lele
Ayaman Ibo Lele, ou pile pye m pa di m padon

Valiant Ibo Lele, Lele Lele
Valiant Ibo Lele, you step on my foot, don't tell me "sorry" (2x)
You step on my foot, don't tell me "sorry"; "What will sorry do for me?"
Valiant Ibo Lele, Lele Lele
Valiant Ibo Lele, you step on my foot, don't tell me "sorry"

(8) Kongo The song opens with the repartee Haitians call "Krik? Krak!"—an exchange that introduces the telling of a kont (folk tale). Here the banter highlights the playful character of kongo (as you might guess, a music-dance style from the Congo region of West Central Africa). Moreau de Saint-Méry identified the dance in colonial Haiti, called it "chica," attributed it to the Congo slaves, and described it just as you would describe today's kongo. Congo people had recently arrived in the colony at the time the Revolution began (1791) but had already gained a double reputation as rebels and as people who loved to party. Feel both sides in Makandal's "Kongo." The first song is historical, tracing back to Les Cayes (South Department) in 1844, when Jean-Jacques Aca'au led a peasant revolt. A Haitian play by Alphonse Piard posits that Kawolin was a daughter of Jean-Jacques who inspired her father to rise up. The whole of Makandal's "Kongo" grooves in dance mode. Solos by sax (3 min, 23 sec) and trombone (4 min, 25 sec) flirt with a frisky bass, which leads the music in a new direction at 5 min. Listen to quotes from classic konpa (dance band) numbers: a paraphrase from Accolade de New York's "Accolade la Rive" and the "Si li bon li bon..." chorus from Coupé Cloué's "Myan Myan." The track ends on a challenge to gossips from a vintage Vodou song, "Bouch Yo pou Yo."

Krik?
Krak!
Kaptenn dèyè pòt?
Bale! Krik?
Krak!
Captain behind the door?
Broom!

Krik?
Krak!
Kaptenn anba kabann?
Vaz!
Krik?
Krak!
Captain under the bed?
Chamber pot!

Krik?
Krak!
Abiye san soti?
Kabann!
Krik?
Krak!
Dressed without going out?
Bed!

Tim tim?
Bwa chèch!
Ti won san fon?
Bag!
Tim tim?
Dry wood!
Little circle without bottom?
Ring!

~~~~~

Kawolin Akawo, danse kongo jis kò m fè mwen mal o (2x)
Danse kongo nou laye kongo, danse kongo nou laye kongo
Kawolin Akawo, nèg nwè ti zorèy anraje

Caroline Aca'au, dance kongo until I ache (2x)
Dance kongo, we swirl kongo, dance kongo, we twirl kongo
Caroline Aca'au, the guys are rising up

~~~~~

Makandal di pi wo pi wo, pi wo nan Nouyòk (4x)

Makandal says higher, higher, higher in New York (4x)

~~~~~

Si li bon li bon, ala bon bouyon (4x)

If it's good it's good, what a good soup!

~~~~~

Bouch yo pou yo, kite yo pale (2x)
Makandal Nouyòk mezanmi afè n ap regle

It's their mouths, let them talk (2x)
Makandal New York—my friends, we're taking care of business!

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