The Afro-Haitian experimental band
In 2010, music legends from Mali and Cuba came together to produce the critically acclaimed AfroCubism. AfroCubism bought Cuban sounds with Mande music in a collaboration that went on to be nominated for a Grammy, while winning other awards. 2016 welcomes another West African and Caribbean musical partnership, the Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra.
The Caribbean and West Africa share a multitude of historical and cultural links, including its music. The genesis of the Afro-Haitian orchestra can be traced to Tony Allen’s trip in Haiti where he played at La Fête de la Musique concert on invitation by the French Institute in Haiti. Allen is a Paris-based Nigerian drummer, composer, and songwriter who worked closely with Fela Kuti and co-founded the Afrobeat genre. While in Haiti, Allen connected with local musicians forming an impromptu band that developed eight songs in five days.
The band’s sound is experimental, honoring the complex links between Haiti and West Africa. Erol Josué, singer, dancer, Vodou priest, and director of the Haitian National Bureau of Ethnology was charged with the task of recruiting local musicians. From the Haitian side, singers and percussionists were selected from foremost bands, such as Racine Mapou de Azor, RAM, the Yizra’El Band, and Lakou Mizik. All together, 10 musicians from Haiti’s top bands stood with Allen, Olaf Hund, and Jean-Philippe Dary.
Afrobeat rhythms meet Haitian Vodou ritual chants in creative polyrhythms bridging the divide of centuries and cultures. This initiative was initially prepared for La Fête de la Musique and may not have reached outside Haiti if the songs the band created had not been re-recorded after the even. The Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra will debut a self-titled album on June 24.
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