Tuesday, January 7, 2014

haitian dances

Frantz Casseus found the perfect expression Haitian folk music with these magical compositions for classical guitar.  During his youth in Port-au-Prince, Casseus became obsessed with the guitar after his aunt's belonging were thrown away after her death, as is the Haitian custom:   “The sight of [Aunt Andree’s] mandolin perched on what seemed a pile of garbage—alongside the memory of her music—has never ceased to haunt me…I burned with desire.” 

He built his own instrument out of a box and some strings until he was able to get a real guitar.  He took on the task of bringing Haitian traditional music together with European classical music to protect the form that he saw falling into obscurity in the wake of occupation by the US military:   “Some with indifference, others with an indignant sadness, have witnessed the disappearance of one of our most delicious national dances which is like a precious pearl ornament of our folklore. [The Haitian M√©ringue] invites [one] to dance, contains a subtle and delicious melody…. [Its] character, its simple and limited form, made it a dance with noble stature, and even a classic.” 

Casseus immigrated to New York where he began composing music for the classical guitar based on the folk music of his homeland.  He also became the teacher for guitarist Marc Ribot.  His album, 'Haitian Dances' is the only document of his solo guitar playing that exists. Casseus would expound:  “I believe it is the artist’s function to render articulately and with beauty the soul of the land of his origin and also the world that he experiences…. As you may know, my work is considered an expression of the Haitian spirit. Yet, critics have stated (and this has been my hope) that it transcends regionalism and enters the realm of transnational art.”

'Haitian Dances'
full album:

01. Suite No. 1: Petro (00:00)
02. Suite No. 1: Yanvalloux (03:25)
03. Suite No. 1: Mascaron (05:44)
04. Suite No. 1: Coumbite (08:56)
05. Etude (11:18)
06. Romance (13:19)
07. Lullaby (15:48)

08. Sobo (19:15)

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