HaitiaNola is proof that lemonade is possible when life hands you lemons. Ten-piece roots-music troupe Lakou Mizik came together to help reassemble Haiti's musical culture in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. They recorded their debut in 2016 and then embarked on an international tour, including a performance at the 2017 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival which was so powerful that they were invited to return the following year.
During that 2018 Festival, they recorded sections of HaitiaNola at the Preservation Hall Jazz Band's private facility and other studios in and around New Orleans. The rest was recorded in Haiti. "There would be no New Orleans music without Haiti," explains PHJB Director Ben Jaffe. "It's been one of the most important influences on New Orleans going back 200 years."
(Historical aside: When the Haitian revolution ended in 1809, thousands of freed black, enslaved black, and white people fled the newly independent nation into the nearest French colony, doubling the population of New Orleans in just a few months.)
With "Renmen (Love)," HaitiaNola's opening track, The Preservation Hall band opens the bridge from Haiti to New Orleans through percussion, rhythm and (call and response) vocals, and brass and reeds that sing out the sound of Big Easy street musicians on a swinging march. This Haitian twist on the familiar "Iko Kreyòl" swims through instrumental and vocal lines that criss-cross to create new currents of melody and rhythm, and slips into the big brass sound of "Sa Na Kenbe (What Will We Keep)," which features Cyril Neville, the youngest member of another New Orleans musical institutionNeville Brothers.
HaitiaNola crescendos in "Lakou Dogwe (Temple Ritual)," a solemn, almost liturgical, melody and rhythm that perfectly dovetails with the primal force of the blues screaming from Anders Osborne's brittle, crunchy electric guitar sound to create a powerful wall of blue voodoo.
Trombone Shorty blasts the tempo from friendly into frantic for the piping hot "Pistach Griye (Grilled Peanuts)." It's tempting to try to figure out which parts of this singular sound come from "New Orleans jazz" and "Haitian traditional" music, but the point of HaitiaNola is that they're both within and next to each other.
Renmen (Love); Pistach Griye (Grilled Peanuts); La Fanmi (The Family); Kay Granpa (Grandfather's House); Loumandja; Lakou Dogwe (Temple Ritual); Azaka Vini We'n (Azaka Came To See Us); Iko Kreyòl; Sa Na Kenbe (What Will We Keep); Rasanbleman (Come Together); Grann (Grandmother); Manman Lavi (Mother of Life); Bouyon Lakou (Lakou Gumbo); Mizik Sa Yo (These Songs).
Lakou Mizik: Jonas Attis: vocals; Beniste Belony: accordion, chorus; Saida Bellamour: chorus, vocals; James Carrier: chorus, percussion; Peterson Joseph: chorus, drums, horn; Junior Lamarre: chorus, bass; Louis Leslie "Sanba Zao" Marcelin: drums, guitar, percussion, vocals; Samuel Priviose: chorus, vocals; Nadine Remy: vocals; Steve Valcourt: guitar, vocals. Guests 79rs Gang; Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews: trombone; Tarriona "Tank" Ball: vocals; Jermaine Bossier: vocals; Romeo R. Bougere: percussion, vocals; Win Butler: dubs, percussion; Régine Chassagne: vocals; Jon Cleary: guitar, piano; Charlie Gabriel: clarinet, tenor sax; Julian Gosin: trumpet; Walter Harris: drums; Eric Heigle: bass, chord organ, drums, farfisa organ, guitar, keyboards, percussion, programming, synthesizer, synthesizer bass; Ashton Hines: trumpet; Jimmy Horn: guitar; Marcus Hubbard: trumpet; Ben Jaffe: bass, tuba; King James: vocals; Darryl Johnson: vocals; Ronell Johnson: trombone; Raja Kassis: guitar; Branden Lewis: trumpet; Lost Bayou Ramblers; Damas "Fanfan" Louis: drums; Clint Maedgen: tenor sax; Leyla McCalla: cello, vocals; André Michot: accordion; Louis Michot: fiddle; Cyril Neville: vocals; Anders Osborne: guitar; Corey Peyton: trombone; Jeremy Phipps: trombone; Preservation Hall Jazz Band; Paul Robertson: trombone; Kyle Roussell: keyboards, piano; Logan Schutts: drums; The Soul Rebels; Tank and the Bangas; Daniel Tremblay: banjo;; Erion Williams: saxophone.
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