Michel Alibo: The Bassic Personification of World Fusion
AAJ: So will Bojan's thing be next for Act?
MA: I don't know. I know we will be playing together more and I know there will be a new Ifrikya album as well. I have also started to compose again for my own project. I started composing again for this band, Sakesho . It's a new band, but nobody knows Sakè³¨o -they know Andy Narell . For me personally, I want to prioritize the fusion of West Indian music. The Latin jazz element is a big part of Sakè³¨o, but when I compose for it I don't want to focus on the Latin jazz element- I focus on fusing it with a West Indian concept. I put some elements in there, including the rhythms, to make you think of West Indian music. We use a 3:4 beat, called "Mazurka," a kind of African waltz, a very traditional rhythm, or Beguine based rhythm. Mario has composed songs around the ceremonial music of Martinique. They used to dance on it with a kind of conductor who talked to the audience. There is parallel to this in New Orleans, with parade leaders. It's a traditional kind of a march, but in three. You know, [again, phonetically] Rakadeerakrak- a-rakrak. We use this but try to go different places with it. So I am taking my time and composing at my own pace, to make sure I get a different concept in there. It's been beautiful to be able to pick and choose what I do.
AAJ: What are some of the records you're you most proud of?
MA: Hopefully people can sample from the African period, like Salif, especially Soro, and Manu Dibango, especially Waka Juju. We also created some incredible bass lines in the music of the singer from Cameroon called Sam Fantomas. During the Sixun period, I'd say Bleu Citron, L'eau de La, Lunatic Taxi and Nomad's Land, when we really came into our own with ideas and energy. Some of the West Indian Zouk, although very commercial, had some great grooves and bass lines on it, but they are difficult to find. You know, I played with Kassav right at the beginning. These are considered groundbreaking records. Recently I had a great live experience in Germany, with the WDR big band, Vince Mendoza as conductor. The band had Peter Erskine on drums, Luis Conte on percussion, Dario Erskenazi on acoustic piano, Andy Narell on steelpans, Marcio Doctor on percussion and me on bass. This happened first June of '97 in Koln and then again in 2001, with West African emphasis, with Salif singing!
AAJ: Now that you mention Kassav again, I am making a connection. This is the most famous Zouk band. I heard them when I was on vacation in the Caribbean, in the early 90's. I had no idea that was you.
MA: It's not always me, but yeah, the bassist in that band was calling me to do some recording sessions. He was so great. He knew me as a jazz player and a good bassist. He actually had some great ideas that he wanted me to play! So he called me. Where are you going to find someone who would do that (Laughs)? Just different tracks on their first couple of cds.
AAJ: What compositions are you most proud of?
MA: "Raggalibo" . A bass raga inspired by Jamaican music-it's on Lunatic Taxi. There are so many actually. But whether it's a record like Maghreb where there are traditional songs, or Ifrikya, where I did none of the composing, there are still many great ideas!
AAJ:So what's coming up for you, project-wise?
MA:The next project may be crossing up West Indian with a Hip Hop concept! We're working a lot on it with my friend saxophonist Jacques Schwarzt-Bart. But that's a 'to be continued.'
AAJ:Finally, give us your attempt at self-classification, musically?
MA:It's always difficult to know exactly who you are, or exactly what you are...and sometimes, I've thought, "I wasn't born in the right place!" (Laughs)... with all these experiences I've had, like my time in Africa, all the musicians that I've met in Europe,etc., I could never have had all those opportunities living in the country of my birth, Martinique. The thing to hold on to is your own 'language' and try to be understood by the world.