Big Band, Mini Jazz & Twoubadou Sounds, 1960-78.
A collaboration with Strut Records, this time celebrating the overlooked musical legacy of Haiti, going beyond the voodoo stereotypes and tracing the development of a unique sound that echoed across the Caribbean. Limited repress available direct here – double LP with double CD included.
“Superb (….) if this music doesn’t get your feet tapping, pulse racing and put a smile on your face, see a doctor” (independent on sunday)
“Essential listening” (The Sunday Times)
“A fascinating document that swings like hell” (Mojo)
“a remarkably consistent and fascinating collection, with a more or less relentless pulse and joyous mood throughout. Haiti Direct is engaging, approachable and extremely groovesome”. (The List)
At the dawn of the ’60s, as Jamaica twisted American RnB into ska and reggae and musicians from Cuba and Puerto Rico codified the sound of Salsa, Haiti gave birth to Compas Direct – an updating of the traditional Meringue rhythm, adapted with a new swing and complex arrangements.
The driving sound and irresistible beat of Compas swiftly dominated the French-speaking Caribbean as well as taking root in the urban centres of New York, Paris, Montreal and Miami.
As the decade waned, the big band orchestras of Compas-originator Nemours Jean-Baptiste and musical rival Webert Sicot gave way to new, smaller groups like les Shleu Shleu and les Frères Déjean. Raw electric guitars, wailing sax lines and driving percussion combined as the groups blended local rhythms with rock and jazz influences, producing a raucous, punchy and densely textured sound that paved the way for the next decade.
Into the ‘70s, the Mini-jazz sound had become a major force across the Caribbean and into mainland Europe and South America. Tabou Combo filled New York’s Central Park for a Summer concert and topped the charts in France, bringing the sound of Compas to a new and wider audience and would eventually form one of the cornerstones of the Zouk wave in the ’80s.