NO JAZZ IN THE SOUTH FESTIVAL IN 2015
Labowi Promotions will not produce Jazz in the South in 2015. Jazz in the South, which began in 1996, was conceived and managed as a community-based cultural festival dedicated to quality Creole Jazz and World Music, capable of attracting diverse audiences from home and abroad, with a strong educational component (master classes, workshops), giving Caribbean musicians based in the region and the diasporas an opportunity to meet, share and create, and contributing to the content and impact of the Saint Lucia Jazz (and Arts) Festival. In recent years, producing this festival has become increasingly difficult, and this year we have concluded that the conditions no longer permit us to remain consistent with our vision and our objectives and to produce Jazz in the South in a manner that is satisfactory to all our partners and to ourselves. We thank all those who have made this journey possible.
At once an achievement of ethnomusicology and artistic innovation, Jacques Schwarz-Bart’s revelatory new album, Jazz Racine Haïti, fuses modern jazz and Haitian ritual music. Featuring haunting vocals by voodoo priests, as well as dazzling improvisations, this unprecedented project reveals powerful facets of the spirituality of vodou while remaining deeply rooted in the jazz idiom.
The band features some of the greatest jazz talents in the world such as Etienne Charles and Ben Williams, as well as the most powerful vodou ambassadors with singer Erol Josué, and Bonga Jean-Baptiste. It is a meeting of the minds at the highest level, in a mission to reconnect modern jazz with its African spiritual roots.
Following a highly successful launch of this album in France in February, New York-based Guadeloupean Schwarz-Bart will present this new concept to the public of Jazz in the South on Sunday 4 May at the Rudy John Beach Park in Laborie.
This performance will feature Haitian singer, dancer and vodou priest Erol Josué.
Following his first album, Ki Koté, which received excellent reviews from the media and from the public, Martinican pianist Grégory Privat offers yet another product of his unique artistic universe, a musical illustration of the tales of Cyparis.
Cyparis was a prisoner who, from the depth of his dungeon, survived the deadly blast of Mount Pelé that destroyed the city of Saint-Pierre, then Martinique’s capital, in 1902. Some said Cyparis was the sole survivor of this cataclysm. He was not, but Cyparis' story-telling talents made him quite popular: he was hired by the Barnum & Bailey circus, with which he travelled the world over to display his burns.
Grégory Privat will perform this original creation at the Rudy John Beach Park in Laborie on 4 May with his quintet, the Children of Cyparis.
Haitian artist Erol Josué is unique, and fully original. Composer, choreographer, dancer, singer and vodoo priest, he currently resides in Port au Prince, where he performs concerts and officiates as a priest in Haiti’s popular religion.
In September 2012, he was appointed by the Haitian government as Executive Director of the Bureau National d’Ethnologie, and is therefore now in charge of the immaterial cultural heritage of his country. Located between a lived and well rooted vodoo tradition and its more contemporary expressions, Erol Josué’s position is unique and important. His performances, set somewhere between art and anthropology, help to wipe out the clichés that surround the richness of vodoo in Haiti, but also to understand and interpret this phenomenon in its global context.
With eloquence and clarity, through metaphors and symbols, his words and his craft make him an exceptional performer, but he is also frequently asked to provide technical assistance on cultural matters and to participate in academic events, notably in the USA. In all his work, he deals forcefully, but also humorously, with the stereotypes that still surround the baroque syncretism of vodoo, with the prejudices so often fuelled by old and persistent neo-colonial, paternalistic and racist clichés.
On Sunday 4 May 2014, Erol Josué will be the featured vocalist in Jacques Schwarz-Bart’s Jazz Racine Haiti project at the Rudy John Beach Park in Laborie.
Denis Lapassion is a composer and performer who is particularly keen to explore the fusion between tradition and modernity, blending jazz with traditional rhythms from his country, French Guyana.
Lapassion began studying classical piano at the age of 9. In 1993, he went to Paris to study musicology, classical piano and jazz and, in 1996, founded his first band. He has also performed with other groups, moving between jazz, gospel, afro-Caribbean genres, and classical music.
In 2013, Denis Lapassion released his first album, called Sérénité, which blends gospel, jazz and traditional music from the Amazon region. He performed this original music last year at the Cayenne Jazz Festival.
Lapassion is a composer and outstanding performer, but he also works as an arranger, event promoter and educator. Since his return to his native Cayenne in 2008, he has been involved in a wide range of activities, including the establishment, in 2009, of a music school called the Institut de Formation aux Disciplines Musicales (IFDM), as an avenue to share his international experience and knowledge through training and education.
"Jazz is Creole music," says Charles who was born in Trinidad, relocated first to Florida and then New York to further his jazz studies (graduating, respectively, from Florida State's and Juilliard's jazz programs) and today teaches jazz trumpet at Michigan State University.
"As a person in the new world, I’ve been influenced by so much music. And my family has a mixed background, with French Caribbean, Spanish and African roots as well as Venezuelan influences. I come from a fusion of rhythms, a fusion of cultures”. That's what Eteinne’s music is all about: focusing on soul music that is Creole at heart."
As befitting an artist who excels with such a diversity of musical styles, Charles has performed with a range of musicians, from Roberta Flack, Rene Marie and David Rudder to Wynton Marsalis, Johnny Mandel, the Count Basie Orchestra and Maria Schneider.
He also worked with steel pan all-star Len "Boogsie" Sharpe as well as jazz masters Frank Foster and Benny Golson. He has released four albums, including his most recent “Creole Sound”, which has received great reviews.
Etienne performs with Jacques Schwarz-Bart’s Jazz Racine Haïti project on Sunday 4 May 2014 in Laborie.
Originally from Vieux Fort, Shomari Maxwell is a young up and coming musician who has been playing his piano/keyboards for the last ten years, but who has been involved in music for much longer.
Growing up in the backyard of bands like “Survival” and “Karma”, he learned what was good music very early on. With the musical influence and guidance of his father, guitarist Monty Maxwell, Shomari is well on his way to becoming a prominent musician with his own sound and style.
Wendell Richards is a young Laborian who has been performing since the age of 16.
He started in the VFCSS school concert band and never stopped since. His music incorporates a fusion of his favourite musical styles including Reggae, Jazz/Blues, R & B and Calypso. He is constantly looking for ways of fusing the different styles in the music that he plays.
On Sunday 4 May at the Rudy John Beach Park, Maxwell and Richards will join their talents for an original collaboration. Interestingly, while these two musicians went to school together and know each other well, this will be the first time that they will perform together on stage.
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ABOUT JAZZ IN THE SOUTH
Since 1996, Jazz in the South is a community-based project, rooted in the South of Saint Lucia, conceived as an instrument to support economic activity, business opportunities and social cohesion in host communities.
Jazz in the South was conceived and is managed on a voluntary basis by Labowi Promotions, in partnership with musicians, other community organisations, sponsors, donors and cultural organisations.
Jazz in the South is a component of Saint Lucia Jazz.