Posted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 11:34 pm Post subject:

 Orchestre Septentrional: 56 years: Alive and well Chronique musicale #84 While everyone had been busy talking about the great Orchestre Tropicana and the most recent release of its double CD celebrating its 40th Anniversary, we seem to have somewhat been neglecting this other giant from the North, Orchestre Septentrional, la Boule de feu internationale. Yes, Septen is alive and well, and there is no better testimony to that than its most recent release: L’Orchestre Septentrional, Septen un jour-Septen toujours- 1948-2004. That is 56 years of quality entertainment, a unique feat! If anyone thought Septen was going to fold quietly, well think again. Ever since I got the album, I have never being tired of listening to it. You are in for a treat !. With a solid brass section , excellent rhythm, pretty melodies, the band really pours it on with each tune. The introductory tune, Vanessa is quite entertaining, with a tremendous brass sound and rich voices. I invite you to follow closely the play of the drummer who does an excellent job of supporting each song with great timing and nuances. I also quite enjoyed the play of the keyboardist who, without being flashy, has some very pretty lines throughout the CD. Listen also to the play of the conga player. Do not expect your typical konpa beat, absolutely not. It is this bland of modern and traditional sound which is so admiring in a group like Septentrional which has been able to come up with a nice and entertaining mix of music. No wonder young as old have a tremendous time dancing Septentrional. The same can be said of Tropicana by the way. There is something for everyone on this CD and for me in particular, I found something that has become too rare with Haitian bands: they do not compose slow songs anymore, boleros as we say in Haiti. But would you believe there are two such songs on the CD! Tune No. 5, Mon cher Papa, a "méringue douce" and a very nice tribute to the father, something rather rare, should I say, in Haitian music; and Tune No. 7, Demen, a most beautiful and romantic melody. I think this recent release from Orchestre Septentrional is one of the best by this band in some years: it is tremendously entertaining; the mixing is very good; the lyrics are meaningful and the band shows a lot of versatility. I was trying to decide about which song would be my favorite, but I find it difficult too choose. The truth is that each one of the songs stands on its own and I wonder why the CD did not get more airplay and publicity. That is unfortunately, but one thing you can do to remedy this situation is to hurry to buy your copy; listen to it and you will agree with me that it is an excellent piece of work. Serge Bellegarde - Help fight Haitian CDs piracy, it is bad for everyone. For windows on Haiti, August 2005

 

jmflorestal Joined: 20 Oct 2004 Posts: 434

Posted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:57 am Post subject: Serge, It seems to me that you omit to point out a very important detail about the CD. I have not heard the CD yet. But, after reading your review, one important question remains in my mind. Were the songs sung by Roger Colas? It is hard for me to imagine Septen without Roger Colas. That is the same problem I had with Tropicana without Giordani. So, please let me know. And if so, which songs did he sing on the album? Septen and Tropicana in the Haitian music system had always symbolized for me the cultural and economic powerhouse that the North is and has always been in Haiti. That is, like an enclave, it is a country inside a country so much it is rich with culture, economic strength, history, etc., and so much it is also self sufficient. The other question that I have is that whether there is a new generation of Northern musicians to carry out the tradition of the North, like Speten and Tropicana. That tradition is that the North is that good, that alone it can represent Haiti. It started during the colony and reached its apogee with the secession of Henri Christophe's government. This little competition between the north and the rest of Haiti is good because it makes everyone try to do better. So, who will be the successors to Septen and Tropicana?

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Serge Bellegarde Joined: 13 Mar 2003 Posts: 375

Posted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 4:05 pm Post subject: Jean-Marie, I can appreciate very much what you are saying, but if I remember well, Roger Colas left us quite a few years ago in a car accident and only the memory survives on records. But believe me, the singers sound very good and I believe that even hardcore fans of Septen will agree that despite Roger Colas's absence, the band has not missed a beat and remains a powerhouse in the North, alongside Tropicana. It sounds good, the music is full and I found this CD quite entertaining and I think you will enjoy it too. Let me know what you think of it after you have listened to it. Serge

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leonel jean-baptiste Joined: 20 Feb 2004 Posts: 380 Location: Denmark

Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 7:40 am Post subject: Guys, I always thought that Septen was the best. Speaking of following the footsteps of these greats... I am very skeptical about it. I don't think there will be a Ansy Derose, Coupe cloue, Tabou, Skah shah, Djet X, etc. And most of all, none for Tropic and the Great Septen... leonel

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jmflorestal Joined: 20 Oct 2004 Posts: 434

Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 8:14 am Post subject: leonel, It may sound corny, but it is always pleasant to have you involved in an exchange. I guess we all just like people of like-minded ideas. Anyway, these groups, Tropic and Septen, forced me to appreciate them. Although Septen was easier to like with Roger Colas and their boleros, Tropic was hard to like. I always saw it like that odd group with odd sounds. And what about the voice of that singer Giordani? It was so different than Henry Celestin of "Difficiles" who by the way, according to me, was the least fit voice for a professional singer, Volcy of Ambassadors, Raymond Cajuste of Bossa, Cubano, Zouzoule or Gwo Bebe of Shleu-Shleu, etc. These two jazzs evolved in the vaccum left by Jazz des Jeunes and Gerard Duperville. When you were enthralled with all these groups in Port-au-Prince - Shleu Shleu, Bossa, Ambassadors, Difficiles, Gypsies/Scorpio - and their more digital and metallic sounds, Tropic was really something for other people. By the time they came up with "Limonade", and you have such a mixture of melodies, nice lyrics, great story telling, great kreyol images, I had no choice. Tropic became that great orchestra that can charm you with every part of their music. I mentioned the kreyol images. Did you notice how poetic and melodious Giordani was when when he said in "Limonade: "Nèg la kraze tout eskamp figi mwen, li mete m deyò." That line alone converted me into beleiving how talented these Tropic musicians were and how entertaining the music. When you hear in the song, things like: "Mwen chèche yon ti kote ki fè nwa. Mwen gade adwat, mwen gade agoch, mwen glise desann" you can't help appreciate the great lyrics writing of these guys. This was great cultural asset. Again, for everything regarding our culture, I have serious doubts about the continuity for groups who stayed in Haiti, specially in the North. The past twenty years have been very hard for the North. And I suspect the kind of musical breeding ground that produced all these great musicians from Septen and Tropic may have been devastated by emigration, lack of maintenance and a depleted musical audience. We'll see.

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leonel jean-baptiste Joined: 20 Feb 2004 Posts: 380 Location: Denmark

Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 12:38 pm Post subject: Thanks Jean-Marie. I was laughing when you wrote some of the lyrics of Tropic which reminds me of 1976. There was a Kermess in Carrefour (Freres Juvenat). A group of us decided to go without money. There was this big wall which we climbed on. We landed on this white substance (la cho). When we got to where everyone was, they kicked us out. For, that was their plan. The officer came with his flashlight, checked our shoes which were white with Lacho... Another time, in 1980 at Simbie Continental. My older brother never paid for anything (he was a professional Grateur). One sunday afternoon (scorpio was playing every sunday). He persuaded me to go over the wall like him. When I reached the top of the wall, I saw this makout with his gun. He said to me: Depi w desann, map kraze w. I will never forget my last day of: " Pran daso". Tropic really knows some facts. leonel

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Serge Bellegarde Joined: 13 Mar 2003 Posts: 375

Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 11:23 pm Post subject: Jean-Marie, Leonel, I understand perfectly well your sense of nostalgia for these great guys. They were indeed unique in their styles. But, here is how I see it. Haitian musicians have been evolving in very difficult situations, it is true, but they are also very resilient and this is an area in our culture which has managed to survive and maintain some creativity. I do not know to what extent you all have been following musicians in Haiti, but, while there is a lot of rubbish out there, there are also a lot of promises among the youngest generation. You will not have another Gérard Dupervil or Guy Durosier, but they have left so much material that they remain alive. What needs to happen is for the younger generation to listen to those guys more, not to play like them, but to learn more about harmony, phrasing, all these little things in a song, a chord here, a brass sound there, all that enhances the song without overhelming it. So they are gone, but I remain encouraged when I listen to some musicians out there today. The thing is to keep in touch with the music. I remember how in jazz, I used to wonder who will replace Ella Fitzgerald, or Carmen Mc Rae, Dinah Washington etc.Well, when you listen to singers like Diana Krall, Cassandra Wilson or Jane Monheit, you know that "la relève" is alive and well. Same thing for Haitian music. The country is just in such a mess that a lot of our musicians do not have the opportunity nor the venues to shine. This is a tragedy. Anyway, let me stop there before I get carried away. Enjoy the Septen CD. ! Serge

 


 

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