#SessionLive Cape Caribbean with a group from Gonaïves (Haiti) Chouk Bwa who travels together with the Belgian electro duo The Angströmers and the Cuban violinist Yilian Canizares.
Following the success of their 1er collaborative album Vodou Alé (2020) Chouk Bwa & The Ångströmersreleased their 2nd album entitled Somanti. This reunion combines the powerful voodoo rituals of Haiti with electronic music and captivating dub. The 2 groups come from very different traditions. Chouk Bwa is from Gonaïves, cradle of Haitian voodoo and birthplace of the country’s independence. Their mizik rasin (root music) is infused with the deep spirituality of the Lakou temples, the revolutionary history of their hometown and the African heritage of its people. Brussels-based duo The Ångströmers channel their passion for musique concrete, dub, hardcore and industrial, as well as their expert knowledge of all manner of analog electronic gear. The two groups are united by their ability to plunge their listeners into an ecstatic trance.
While Vodou Alé focused on new compositions and narrative songs, Somanti is a ritual album. Most of the tracks are based on ceremonial music with traditional lyrics revealing wise proverbs. It is important for musicians to preserve the complexity and solemnity of the religious aspect.
Chouk Bwa’s music is entirely acoustic: it is the sound of wood, skin, metal, horn and the human voice singing in Haitian Creole. This music contains strong cultural memories and rhythms, with its invocations of ancestral lands – the African kingdoms of Oyo, Kongo and Dahomey – and the thunderous proclamations of the transcontinental Vodou spirits of Legba, Ogou and Inan. There is joy in the songs, but also a darker side, an empathetic rage witnessing injustice and pleading for the world’s poor.
Titles performed at the big studio
– Fey Nan Bwa Live RFI RFI Videos
– Salafrom the album Somanti
– Somanti Live RFI RFI Videos.
Line Up: Maloune Prevaly, a singer, Jean Rigaud Aimabledrum, choir, Frederic Alstadtelectro, Nicolas Esterleelectro, Gomez Henrislead vocals, drum, iron, Sadrack Merzierdrum, choir.
Sound: Mathias Taylor and Benoît Letirant.
► Album Somanti (Bongo Joe Records / L’Autre Distribution 2023).
Concert November 5, 2023, Aubervilliers, Cities of World Music.
Then we welcome the Cuban violinist Yilian Canizares for the release of her new album Habana-Bahia.
Yilian Cañizares continues his world tour of Africanities in exile. In 2019, to burn the album Erzulie, she had settled in New Orleans; there she found vivid memories of Creolity, Haitian voodoo, cosmopolitan jazz and southern funk. Today, for Habana-Bahia, she chooses another capital of black identities: Salvador de Bahia, and above all a particular neighborhood, Candeal, which concentrates all the electricity of a metropolis, its spirits and its drums. Candeal resembles the free zones, the otherworlds described in Jorge Amado’s books. The immense graffiti frescoes draw modern epics on the walls, the bloco afro orchestras cover the sound space. And the incandescent soul of musician Carlinhos Brown watches over these streets which are home to a cultural epicenter. Yilian asked someone very close to Brown to take over the musical direction of the album: Alê Siqueira. Alê Siqueira not only won a Grammy Award for the musical architectures he built in the album Tribalistas. But he has also shaped universes for Tom Zé, Chico César, Caetano Veloso and the international scene, from Cheikh Lô to Omara Portuondo. What Yilian Canizares was looking for in him was absolute mastery of Bahian textures but also a contemporary vision, roots and wings.
It is not the slave route that Yilian takes in his work of return to the sources; it is that of the divinities. When she was little, in downtown Havana, Yilian had to straighten her hair, masking any trace of blackness. Growing up, she reconnected with her African part in the temples of Regla de Ocha, among saints who traveled in the hold, in all the colonies, from Cuba to the United States, from Haiti to Brazil. One day, Yilian Cañizares discovered that she was protected by a feminine spirit, dressed in gold, a spirit of perfume, flowers and beauty, named after a small river in the heart of Nigeria: Oshun.
The music of this singer, a violinist trained in the classical school, of this woman who dances and thinks about the world, this music is an odyssey in search of the traces that Oshun left on all the lands where she was scattered. Obviously, Habana-Bahia is a key stage of this journey to the imaginary land of the gods called Orishas. For Yillian, it is not a question of aping the rhythms of the Brazilian Northeast, she is not playing local colors, but she is investigating even more deeply all the accents that the culture of the Yoruba people has taken on in its transatlantic transports. And the ancient prayers that she sings are exorcisms which replace the tragedy of deportation with the power of resistance. For this segment, Yilian Cañizares travels again with his long-time companions, the Mozambican bassist Childo Tomás and the Cuban percussionist Inor Sotolongo, two sailors of rough waters who are an imperturbable backbone for this music. They offer Yilian a solid base, a launching pad so that the Brazilians, the voices, the guitars, the tight skins, all these hosts of Candeal can multiply the tracks, without this music ever resembling a Spanish inn. And yet, this record is a feast. It opens with the ageless timbre of the mystical washerwomen of Itapuã who bless the name “Oxum” — as it is spelled there. He deploys salty souls, filtered rock, new century tropicalisms. It mixes voices from here and elsewhere, duets from across the seas, Spanish and Brazilian. Yilian Cañizares sings of her true volatile nature, she reconciles space and time, men and gods.
Titles Performed at the Grand Studio
– Bembé Live RFI watch the clip
– Oxum (radio edit) watch the clip
– Habana Bahia Live RFI watch the clip.
Sound: Benoît Letirant, Mathias Taylor.
► Album Habana-Bahia (Absilone 2023).
Concert Paris November 8, 2023, Café de la Danse.