All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

31

Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince, 2017 - Part 1

Mark Sullivan By

Sign in to view read count
After a few minutes the rain let up, so Haitian-American vocalist Sarah Elizabeth Charles took the stage, joined by guest trumpeter Christian Scott. She opened unaccompanied, a haunting vocalise augmented by live electronics. Her eclectic approach continued after the band entered, including a Haitian folk tune (her father was originally from Port-au-Prince) "Wangolo Wale," and a reggae tune. After "Face of Fun" (the title tune from her forthcoming album) she began "Amarita," a politically-charged song setting words by poet Maya Angelou. But the downpour resumed to such an extent that the set had to be cut short. The weather was so inclement that headliner Panamanian pianist Danilo Pérez was unable to take the stage. Fortunately there was an After Hours session, so he and his band were able to play a short set in a more intimate setting, with Pérez playing an electronic keyboard in place of his usual grand piano. They began with "Elegant Dance," continuing with other selections from his "Suite for the Americas." Not really a substitute for a full set, but much better than a complete cancellation.

Sunday evening's concert began with German pianist Sebastian Schunke and his Berlin Quartet (bassist Marcel Krömker, drummer Diego Pinera, and saxophonist Danielle Freeman). The set opened rather abstractly, with Freeman really wailing on soprano saxophone. There was a montuno pattern, but the music took place at an intersection between Latin and modern jazz—a lengthy piano/drum duet closed the tune out with a sustained energy blast. Other material moved into a more mainstream Latin groove. "Ella" from his latest album Genesis, Mystery And Magic (Nwog Records, 2014) is about his young daughter, who he described as "wired." "Oma Mutti" came from Back In New York (Connector Records, 2008), an album featuring the great Paquito d'Rivera on clarinet which Schunke described as "a dream come true." The group's set on Monday was similar, but demonstrated the flexibility in the arrangements. A fascinating take on Latin jazz, incorporating generous amounts of modern jazz style.

Haitian-American singer Vanessa Jacquemin has a style with many elements. The strongest is the samba that comes from her years in Brazil (there's even a Brazilian percussionist in her band), followed by the Parisian jazz scene. French guitarist Alex Jacquemin was the linchpin of the group, a fusion guitarist with tremendous chops. Completely supportive most of the time, but capable of taking the spotlight when required. The first appearance of pop music in the festival—albeit with a jazz flavor—with more to come.

Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba made his first Haitian appearance with his Volcan Trio (electric bassist Armando Gola and drummer Horatio "El Negro" Hernandez). It was a bravura performance in every sense. Rubalcaba is a virtuoso, and his group is more than capable of keeping up with him every step of the way. Which is not to say that it was all about flashy technical display. He paused to play an elegant Cuban danzón, which is a slow, formal partner dance. And the band revisited his original "La Nueva Cubana" from the repertoire of Projecto, his first band. A rousing conclusion to the second night of the festival.

Interlude 1: Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien, Musée du Bureau National d'Ethnologie, Hotel Oloffson

The National Museum is a remarkable place, full of historical objects and art that tell the story of the country going back to before independence. There's even one of the Goodwill Moon rocks, presented to the country by U.S. President Richard Nixon after the Apollo 11 mission. But perhaps the most striking exhibit is the one devoted to Haiti's many Presidents—ranging from President for Life to several who were only in power for a few months. It's a completely unvarnished view of Haiti's often turbulent political history—warts and all.



Across the street, the Museum of Ethnology celebrates Haiti's vernacular traditions, especially vodou. Drums and altars used in vodou ceremonies are on display, as well as Carnival costumes. The day's tour concluded at the famous Hotel Oloffson, known for being the setting of Graham Greene's novel The Comedians. A wonderful bit of history, apparently unaffected by the earthquake.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Playing Lecuona

Playing Lecuona

Sony Music
2016

buy
Volcan

Volcan

5Passion
2013

buy
XXI Century

XXI Century

5Passion
2012

buy
Fe...Faith

Fe...Faith

5Passion
2011

buy
Fe' ... Faith

Fe' ... Faith

5Passion
2011

buy
Avatar

Avatar

Blue Note Records
2008

buy

Related Articles

Read Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2018
by Doug Collette
Published: June 13, 2018
Read Le French May’s Live Jazz Series in Hong Kong Live Reviews
Le French May’s Live Jazz Series in Hong Kong
by Rob Garratt
Published: June 11, 2018
Read Michelle Lordi at Philadelphia Museum of Art Live Reviews
Michelle Lordi at Philadelphia Museum of Art
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: June 10, 2018
Read Andy Hague Quintet at The Bronx Bar Live Reviews
Andy Hague Quintet at The Bronx Bar
by Barry Witherden
Published: June 10, 2018
Read Atlanta Jazz Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Atlanta Jazz Festival 2018
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 9, 2018
Read Vision Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Vision Festival 2018
by John Sharpe
Published: June 5, 2018
Read "Crispell-Fonda-Sorgen Trio Live at The Falcon" Live Reviews Crispell-Fonda-Sorgen Trio Live at The Falcon
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 29, 2017
Read "Dixie Dregs at the Boulder Theater" Live Reviews Dixie Dregs at the Boulder Theater
by Geoff Anderson
Published: April 28, 2018
Read "Dixie Dregs at Lincoln Theatre" Live Reviews Dixie Dregs at Lincoln Theatre
by Eric Thiessen
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "Willie Nelson's Outlaw Festival" Live Reviews Willie Nelson's Outlaw Festival
by Christine Connallon
Published: September 30, 2017
Read "Vijay Iyer Sextet at The Village Vanguard" Live Reviews Vijay Iyer Sextet at The Village Vanguard
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: May 21, 2018
Read "Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2017
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: July 5, 2017