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All our 15 videos of the 2016 Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince !

Check out our 15 videos of the 2016 Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince 2016 in our YouTube playlist !!!


Haitian All Jazz Stars (Haïti/USA)
Oliver Jones Trio (Canada)
Thomas Siffling Trio (Allemagne)
Pauline Jean (Haïti/USA)
Quartet Cor des Alpes + Jah Baba (Suisse/Bénin)
Desir & Fiorini (Belgique)
Pie Grande (Mexique)
Jérémie Jones (Canada) et Tanbou Lakaye (Haiti)
Agustin Moya Trio (Chili)
John Bern Thomas (Haiti) invite Godwin Louis
Chano Dominguez (Espagne)
Omar Sosa et Erol Josué (Cuba/Haïti)
Manu Codjia (France)
Wespè pou Ayiti (Caraïbes)
Mario Canonge et Annick Tangorra (Martinique/France)

Politics, Sparks by the Haitian All Jazz Stars, Green Dolphin Street by the Oliver Jones Trio and In Motion by the Thomas Siffling Trio at 10th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince (PAP Jazz) !

pauline jeanThe 10th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince (2016) is unlike any other past editions not only for the music but for the politics and social climate. In fact, even politics affected this 10th PAP Jazz, that's how it's called here, as the 2nd round of presidential elections date was decided early January as being January 24th, the second day of PAP Jazz with dates that were January 23rd to January 30th. On top of that, because of the volatile situation in Haiti (demonstrations and violence) around January 24th, all public events on January 23rd and 24th were forbidden, complicating things for festival organisers Joel Widmaier et Milena Sandler.

So dates and concerts were moved around so that most bands playing on the 23rd and 24th would play on other dates and that the opening night of PAP Jazz would be Friday, January 22nd. Kicking it off was canadian pianist Oliver Jones and trio, followed by german trumpeter Thomas Siffling and trio and to end this first concert night, the once-only concert of the Haitian All Jazz Stars, the brainchild of organiser/percussionist/singer Joël Widmaier that included  some of the brightest stars of Haiti's unique brand of creole jazz.

This great concert night however started a bit slowly, maybe because of the demonstrations and the ensuing chaotic traffic, with a stellar performance by Oliver Jones laying down some of his classics, brilliantly sided by bassist Éric Lagacé and drummer Jim Doxas. To see Green Dolphin Street, from the PAP Jazz, click here

They were followed by Stuttgart's Thomas Siffling Trio, on trumpet and flugelhorn, with his collegues Jens Loh on bass and Markus Faller on the drums, in an interesting style, minimalist, electro, a nice contrast to Oliver's improvisational whirlwind. To see In Motion, direct from the PAP Jazz, click here

This first concert night ended on some of the best creole jazz I'd heard with the Haitian All Jazz Stars that includes saxophonist Godwin Louis, trumpeter Jean Caze, singer Pauline Jean, pianist Mushy Widmaier (Joel's brother), bassist Jonathan Michelle, drummer Obed Calvaire, and some guests such as pianist Réginald Policard, drummer John Bern Thomas, and the multi-tasking organiser/percussionist/singer Joel Widmaïer.

We heard, among others, Sparks (J. Caze), Siwel (G. Louis), Gaya Kou (O. Calvaire), I'm In The Mood For Love (standard) and finally Ti Zwazo, a traditional haitian song, highlighting singer Pauline Jean (picture), a delight ! To see Sparks, a composition by trumpeter Jean Caze, from the PAP Jazz, click here

This is what Joel Widmaier tells us in regards to the Haitian All Jazz Stars and the PAP Jazz :

"We wanted what we think are the best haitian musicians of the planet to get together and play their music on stage, of course many had already played together in concert or studio, but this was the first time they all got together and to make it ever more unique, in Haiti. This project could easily play all over the planet, in the haitian diaspora or in festivals, like in Montreal! As each of these musicians have their own project and music, they each brought their music to the stage. This kind of project is a great example of creole jazz and of course, highlights some of the best creole jazz musicians. Creole jazz has global appeal, here in Haiti, as well as l'Île de la Réunion, in Martinique, in Guadeloupe, and many other countries of the greater global creole community. At PAP Jazz, our goal is to promote creole jazz, and we believe in it. As a musician, I think creole jazz has huge potential just as other jazz genres, such as latin jazz, brazilian jazz, etc...I think this music can travel the world and in the universality of jazz, creole jazz as it's own color and place. Since we started 10 years ago, the public and the creole jazz scene as grown quite a bit here, you can regurlarly hear creole jazz in Port-au-Prince, and you know many younger musicians are getting it thru our very successful PAP Jazz workshops. I had many reasons to start PAP Jazz 10 years ago, obviously the love of music, Haiti was in need of this kind of international festival, and creole jazz needed a platform to expand. My message to the readers : come live and experience of the Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince !"

The PAP Jazz was on until Sunday January 30th with many concerts of groups from all over the planet and Haiti, for more info go to

Claude Thibault

Cuban-born pianist Omar Sosa is joining forces with haitian voodoo priest, actor, singer and dancer Erol Josué for a unique once-only concert at the 10th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince. I spoke with Omar who was recording in South Africa

OMAR SOSA 2 - photo by Massimo Mantovani_150X150.jpgCuban-born pianist Omar Sosa is joining forces with haitian voodoo priest, actor, singer and dancer Erol Josué for a unique once-only concert at the 10th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince. I spoke with Omar who was in Pretoria, late at night, after a long day recording with South African traditional musicians in the 40 degree heat.
CT - Omar you'll be joining forces with Haiti's voodoo priest, singer and dancer Erol Josué whom you met at the Voodoo To Go Festival, how did that connection and this once-only concert happen ?
OS - "It's quite simple, we clicked. For years, I'd heard about Erol from a common friend, Emmanuelle Honorin, who's worked managing Erol for many years. When she started working with Erol, she said Omar, you need to do something with Erol. At the time I didn't have a clue. But you know when I saw his name at the Voodoo To Go festival (Netherlands) where I played and I had a bit of spare time, I told myself let's go see this guy, it sounds interesting. I also knew his percussion players, one who's played on my Creole Spirits project, a mix of voodoo and santeria, with Jacques Schwarz-Bart, and the other the son a brazilian priest who played on Afreecanos, another project. His show was great and I went backstage to meet Erol and introduce myself and we clicked. Our roots are the same, we are caribbean people with african heritage, we are brothers in many ways. He's a character, and not your usual singer, and very theatrical. You know I love adventures, life is too short to do the same thing all the time. I understood all that he was trying to express behind all his costumes and theatrics. You know I'm a santero and I know when the spirit tries to pass their personality to your material body. I understood every single movement, attitude and scene he did, because I know this movement. I know when you are in trance and what happens. Some people might think this person is crazy but this man is on a mission, that of trying to express a tradition. A lot of people might think this is a dark, but it's not.  At first the Port-au-Prince festival wanted me to do a solo concert, and I thought of my encounter with Erol and Emmanuelle, and you know what, I thought let's try to do some work together. I love to learn about traditions, because when you do, you learn about food, human beings, costume, about how people lived, about how people try to digest their day-to-day life. You know I have another project, Creole Spirits with Jacques Schwarz-Bart, a mix of santeria and voodoo, but this project is different. I'm a santero but I'm going to try to take in all this information I'm doing to get from Erol."
CT - Tell us about and the music and the energy that we can expect at this January 28th concert in Port-au-Prince...
OS  - "I don't know what's going to happen. I don't need to know what's going to happen because it's an adventure and that's what makes life. I have some ideas of what I'll do with Erol, but I don't want to advance my ideas too much because it's not my project, it's a collaboration. I don't know if it will be minimalist or other, there will be some strings, percussions, and that's the starting point. Who knows what's going to happen. The important thing is that we go with light, love and energy, and with the spirit."  
CT - How important is religion and spirituality in your music?
OS - "100%. If I don't feel the spirituality in my music, I'm going to do something else in life. Music gives me purpose and strenght and the opportunity to enjoy every single moment of my life, even the opportunity to be happy to talk to you, even if I'm so tired. Because it's music and if we talk about it it will give me energy, that's what spirituality is and I'm passing on that energy to you."
CT - What made you leave Cuba ? music or politics or a bit of both?
OS - "Love is what got me out of Cuba, I fell in love with a girl. But even if that had not happened, my plan was to leave Cuba, not because of politics but because I love adventure. I told you before, I like surprises, but when you live in the same village all your life, there's not too many surprises. But when you travel around the world, it's always a surprise, always, every single second. Today it's 40 degrees in Pretoria, and that was a surprise. I want to share, discover and learn cultures and the only way to do that is travel. Politics no, even if I don't agree with the way things are going on now."
CT - Who were your musical heroes younger and now?
OS - "Thelonious Monk, Frédéric Chopin, Erik Satie, Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky, Aram Khatchatourian, Herbie Hancock. But with age I enjoy more and more people like Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans. Evans changed the way of playing jazz piano, every single piano player on the planet has a bit of the Evans way. Nobody played the chords like Evans. I wish he could hear what I'm saying. When he left he though about if what he did was right or not. He wasn't famous like Miles  but he changed the complete architecture of playing piano in jazz, until today."
CT - What are some of your favorite moments playing music?
OS - "When I wrote my From Our Mother symphony with the Oakland East Bay Symphony, directed by Michael Morgan. The special moment was when I discovered that in the classical world, everything is completely different that what I'd expected. We were rehearsing and in the middle of the third movement, the orchestra stopped and the rehearsal was finished. I looked at Michael Morgan and he said - welcome to the classical world - and see you tomorrow for the concert. I don't know if this was good or bad, but when I heard my music, I cried like a baby. Because I'm old school and I still write everything by hand, I didn't really know how it would sound prior, as compared to when you write on a computer. I didn't know if what I wrote was exactly what was in my mind. I'd written a Bb for the french horns, and it stuck in my mind. Why I hadn't written a B# I don't know, but Bb was wrong. Classical musicians play exactly what's written, nothing else. I'm gonna have to learn to write music of the computer, one day. Anyway that's one of my special moments."
CT - What music do you listen too?
OS - "You know about 20 years ago, for a period of a year, the only thing I listened to was Chopin's Nocturne Mazurka. That music gave me peace and made me relax, for a whole year. At another time for about six months before the Eggun project, when the Barcelona Jazz Festival asked me to present a tribute to Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue recording, the only music I listened to was Kind Of Blue. When I was involved on this project, at home there were videos of Miles playing all the time, all day, of all his periods, I was completely inside that space. That's why I love Evans so much man, when I started working on the Kind Of Blue project, I discovered that even if it was a Miles record, there was a Evans spirit. Check the record out, you're gonna hear. When I read the Miles biography I discovered that Miles had called Evans because he wanted a change in the sound, he wanted a lighter sound. This is why this recording, in that moment of musical history, was something completely different, with a lot of space. At that time with a lot of bebop and swing being played this was very different."  
CT - If you could play with any artist, dead or alive, who would that be?
OS - "It's a complex question. I think Kenny Garrett (laughs), man, because we spoke about him today in the studio here in South Africa. South africans love the saxophone and his personal vibe and groove. And I love it too, he has a very personal way of playing. But you know what ? I actually prefer listening to him than playing with him. Sometimes I tell myself I'd like to play with someone, and you see this person and you realise that the music you're listening is different from the one you'd create together. I met Joe Zawinul one day and he gave me strenght in my life you know, he told me - keep doing your music and be honest. I'd opened for him at the Cully Jazz Festival (2003), before he passed away. I was right behind him for almost the whole concert. When they played a ballad with singer Sabina Kabongo, I cried like a kid. If I'm going to play with anybody, it has to touch me on that kind of level. It can happen with traditional music people that don't even know jazz. Like what we're doing now in South Africa, these days. I don't know if I answered your question but whatever I say, I say it with my heart man."
To see Yon Zanmi Vini Wem January 28th with Omar Sosa, Erol Josué and the Neges Fla Vodoun, click here
Entrevue : Claude Thibault
Omar Sosa and Erol Josué
10th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince
Thursday, January 28th 2016 - 8pm
Scène Delta (Le Triomphe)

A few words with spanish pianist Chano Domínguez who will be playing his great spanish jazz chops in a solo concert at the 10th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince, Thursday, January 28th, 2016.

chano_dominguez_150X150.jpgChano Domínguez
is one of the most sought after pianists on the spanish music scene, particularly for flamenco and jazz, given that he performs tangos, fandangos and other spanish styles with a traditional jazz structure. He has already worked with such artists as Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Paco de Lucia, Joe Lovano, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette and Wynton Marsalis, and recorded several albums. His music has also been played by numerous first-class orchestras such as The Orquesta National de España and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

I spoke to Chano a few hours before a Chano Dominguez Trio concert at Madrid's Sala Clamores, Dec. 8th.
CD - "I'm really glad to be playing at the 10th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince as this will be my first time in Port-au-Prince, it's exciting to go and play my music in Haïti, althought I've been several times on that island, but on the other side in the Dominican Republic. I will be playing music influenced by my life experiences, I've played with so many great musicians from different cultures, on different rhythms and melody patterns. I'm going to try to put all those experiences into my solo piano concert. I'll be playing some original songs influenced by flamenco music and rhythms as well as some standards and songs by musicians that I love, like Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk. I will be playing all the things that are around my life, because you can't understand music without life. You know, it's a challenge to go to the stage alone because you don't have any support beside yourself but  you know what, I love that! I actually don't really know what I'm going to play, I have to be there and feel the people."
CT - What's been your experience with solo playing?
CD - "In the last 25 years I did quite a few solo concerts, starting in the early nineties. It was really hard when I started, by myself on a stage with nobody that could support me with rhythm or harmony. I had to find a way of playing the piano alone. Now I feel very confortable. I did a double record in 1997 (En Directo – Piano Solo) recorded in Madrid's Café Central and I'll soon be releasing a new album recorded in Barcelona. So yes I do quite a bit of solo playing."
CT - You actually started playing music on the guitar and then went to the piano?
CD - "My mother told me that I'd started playing kitchen instruments like a drum set when I was two years old. My very first instrument was the flamenco guitar when I was eight , I discovered the keyboard when I was 15."
CT - Was flamenco and spanish music your first love and then you go into jazz ?
CD - "When I grew up flamenco was all around me, so for me flamenco is in my life, I can't imagine my life without flamenco, as a child it was my earliest influence. Jazz came to me when I was 15 years old listening to a US Navy Base radio station close to Rota (Spain). So I started listening and copying all the great jazz-rock, symphonic rock, fusion groups of that period. The first groups that I heard were Soft Machine, Return To Forever, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Emerson Lake & Palmer. After that I discovered Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal, Errol Gardner, and I fell in love with all of them, I fell in love with jazz culture. I'm still learning music everyday, I have to surprise myself with new music everyday, and it never ends."
CT - What would like to say to the people in Haiti in regards to your January 28th concert ?
CD - "First of all, thanks to the Festival organisers for inviting me and creating this opportunity to play my music for the people of Haiti. I will be there open as I am with nothing else but the piano, playing the best way that I can. I'm a passionate musician so when I'm on stage and playing, I'll feel many things, so I hope the public will feel the same things and if that happens, I'll be happy. That's what I hope."
CT - Who were your musical heroes younger and now ?
CD - "When I was a child, my father, a big fan of flamenco, had and old pickup record player so I heard a lot of great flamenco singers, this was the first music that I heard. I didn't think about it much, but sometimes I thought - wow this guy is this guy crying ?, well you know I was I child so what did I know ? So they were, with my father and his pickup, my first teachers. When I started to play guitar at twelve I discovered Paco De Lucia with the song Entre Dos Aguas. I tried to emulate Paco with my guitar and of course I couldn't because he's the greatest guitar player of all time, as far as I'm concerned. So this was a tremendous time in my life, and I started following Paco's music. The other event is when he (Paco) released Yo Sólo Quiero Caminar with Jorge Pardo, Carlos Benavent and Rubem Dantas. He changed flamenco music with these guys, he opened the door and it became more universal. Paco's music is with me all the time. I'll probably play some of his music in Port-au-Prince. The best thing that I can do is to keep playing his music, keeping it alive. Of course I also love to play the music of Monk, Bill Evans, Miles, Coltrane and Charlie Parker."
CT - What are some of your favorite moments playing music and with who ?
CD - "For sure when Paco invited me to play with him at the Vitoria-Gasteiz Jazz Festival in 2006, that moment was really special for me because here I was sharing the stage with my lifelong hero, what an exciting moment!. There is another moment in 2000 when I was playing in Cuba with Herbie Hancock and Chucho Valdez which was very special to me. Also playing with Wynton Marsalis, Paquito d'Rivera, and Jack DeJohnette, I have very good memories of all the projects that I had with them."
CT - What music do you listen too?
CD - "Because I'm so deeply involved with studying orchestration, I'm listening to Stravinsky and Prokofiev, when I have some time. Stravinky is using his orchestra in a way nobody had ever done before and he wrote everything, so it's really great for me to understand his music. He discovered new colors in the orchestra. And then sometimes I listen to some La Paquera de Jerez or Camarón de la Isla, both flamenco singers. You know, I have eclectic tastes."
CT -If you could play with any artist, dead or alive, who would that be?
CD - "Flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla, Miles Davis and John Coltrane."
To see Gracias a la Vida from Jan. 28th, click here
Interview : Claude Thibault
Chano Domínguez
Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince
Thursday, January 28th 2016 - 7pm
Scène Delta (Le Triomphe)

To see a few of Chano's videos, click here

We spoke with alto sax Kenny Garrett, in concert Jan. 23rd 2016, at the 10th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince. Unfortunatly this concert is canceled because of the haitian presidential elections. Nonetheless, here's the interview with Kenn

kenny_garrett.jpg(Editor's Note : This concert is canceled because of the haitian presidential elections.)

Next January 23rd 2016 saxophonist Kenny Garrett will be in concert at the 10th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince, we spoke to him in regards to Seeds From the Underground and Pushing the World Away, who he'll be playing with in Port-au-Prince, his inspiration and his career, his musical heroes, the state of jazz, what's in his iPod, an artist, dead or alive, that he would've love to have played with.
CT - In regards to your latest project Pushing the World Away you said - and I'm quoting - "that you had to push away to receive the blessings and gifts from these songs.”  Can you elaborate?
KG - "I had just finished my Grammy-nominated CD - Seeds From the Underground (2012) - and I was touring, there were a lot of things going on, I had a lot of music that I wanted to do, so I had to in a certain way, to push things away, to make room for this music and CD."
CT - So you had a lot of music that you wanted to record?
KG - "Yes, and in some aspect of it I think it was a good thing, I didn't think Pushing The World Away would come out so soon, like next year, but the record company wanted to get it out so,so it came and it was actually nominated for a Grammy in 2014 (Best Jazz Instrumental Album)."
CT - Is there a particular message that you wanted to convey with this project?
KG - "You know what I like to do is write the music and not say a lot about it, let the listeners find their way thru the music, just like musicians find their way, you know you listen to some music and then you come back a few year later and you go - wow I didn't hear that. So that's what I want the listener to hear, as opposed to saying everything about
the music.
CT - There's quite a few musicians on this project, three drummers and two pianists...why so many and why those musicians?
KG - "These are all the musicians that were working with me on Seeds From the Underground, I was using two piano players at different times, I was also using three different drummers that way one would always be available, so a pratical reason you know."
CT - What inspires you?
KG - "Well I think life in general, the fact that I get to travel the world and all these different experiences that I encounter. I take those experiences and I create music from them. If I'm travelling in a country I might listen to some local music. You know subconsciously things are kinda there and they might come out at a particular time when I'm writing. Also sometimes I just sit at the piano and play a chord and then from that I just go where it leads me, sometimes that process doesn't work out, I'll go another way and I'll come back after a couple of days or a month later and see where I'm going at that point. There so many different ways that I use to write. I just try and it depends, I've written songs in so many different keys, I'll choose this key and see what happens, what sounds I can get from this. Certain keys conjures up certain thoughts, might be a little bit more spiritual,  and certain keys are a little lighter, certain keys kinda resonate quicker, even if it's something I didn't write."
CT - You're playing at the 10th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince on January 23rd, tell us about the Quintet and the material you'll be presenting...
KG - "So we'll be playing music from the last two CDs : Seeds From the Underground and Pushing the World Away and maybe one or two songs from the new CD that will be coming out in April 2016, I'm not sure. The musicians will be percussionist Rudy Bird (we've played together with Miles Davis), drummer Marcus Baylor (Cassandra Wilson) bassist Corcoron Holt and pianist Vernell Brown." (To see this group at the Jazzwoche Burghausen in March2015, click here)
CT - You've been working steadily, both as a leader and sideman, for nearly thirty-five years, when you think back, are you where you thought you'd be when you started
KG - "Well you know it's been my dream that's for sure. I think I accomplished a lot more than I thought, I mainly just wanted to play music. I've been blessed having played with  Miles Davis, Donald Bird, Dizzy Gillespie, I've been fortunate to play with a lot of great musicians. I didn't know that it would actually end up being that way but I think what I really did is that enjoyed the journey. The list of people that I've played with is sometimes kinda of hard to digest but definitely a blessing you know, Chick and Herbie, McCoy. Those things you think about for sure and you hope that it gets there. I was a kid you know, I didn't think I would play with these guys (laughs)."
You started playing sax when you were quite young...who were your musical heroes back then and now?
KG - "They haven't changed too much. In the beginning I was into people like Hank Crawford, Grover Washington Jr., Cannonball Adderley not when he played with Miles Davis but from Mercy Mercy Mercy (1966), and of course Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Kris, Sonny Stitt, those were my early influences. As I started to play more after graduating from High School and playing with the Ellington band, I heard Johnny Hodges. Later I got into John Coltrane, a real force, Sonny Rollins, so many people, and a lot of trumpet players."
How do you see the future of jazz and music?
KG - "Jazz has always been for a smaller community of people, if you think about all the jazz festivals, a lot of them have more than jazz and other acts. So I think jazz is really  for a small group of people that understand and enjoy it. I can't say that the struggle is the same as before. I've been fortunate that the younger generation has been coming to my concerts as well as the older generation that follow me. I found a balance in there somehow. The only thing we can do with jazz is to expose people but we're still dealing with the same things we were dealing with before, trying to find a platform for this music. Even thought we have a lot more musicians playing, we have a lot more CDs, more competition for the gigs, there's a lot of people in jazz education and those musicians want to come out in the summer and play also. You know 30-40 years ago, there wasn't as much music available, you had the Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, etc.., now everyone is making music so everybody has to find their way and their audience. I feel fortunate that we're still playing music and touring, that's the great thing."
What music do you listen too?
KG - "It varies, I don't really carry my iPod so right now if there's something I want to hear and I'm touring I bring the CD or I go on Youtube and check out some stuff, or when I meet local artists then I'll listen to their music. Most time I'm  trying to keep my head clear and my ears open. When I get home I listen to more cause I'm in my environnment."
If you could play with any artist, dead or alive, who would that be and why?
KG - "I would have loved to play with B.B. King, my mom used to listen to all the blues players and B.B. King, I always wanted to learn that discipline playing the straight blues, not the jazz blues, just  the straight blues, but it never worked out for me, I would've loved to have played with Prince, because of the James Brown influence, he's like the continuation of James Brown."
Interview : Claude Thibault
Kenny Garrett Quintet

To see this group at the Jazzwoche Burghausen in March 2015, click here

Ayiti cheri, at the 9th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince (2015) by Stanley Péan, of ICI Musique (special collaboration).


animation PAP Jazz 2015.gif« Ayiti cheri, pi bon peyi pase ou nan pwen! » sings in creole Joël Widmaier, the main man at the Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince, sitting on the ground in the Fokal parking, a Port-au-Prince cultural centre. The irony of it all is in his voice and half-smile. Dear Haïti, there's no better country than you, that what it means.

Right now, Widmaier doesn't really seem convinced about the meaning of the patriotic song. We're only three days into this ninth edition and a generator breakdown is jeopardising the Monday night concerts. Tèt chaje.  He jumps up, cell glued to his ear, Widmaier searches and finds solutions. Alongside Joel, his life companion and spouse Milena Sandler,  in charge of logistic and communications, is busy with a few volunteers unfolding and lining up chairs at the foot of the stage that workers are finalising construction. In about two hours, three back-to-back artists will be playing : extraordinary chilean trumpeter Sebastián Jordán, haitian-New York guitarist Chardavoine (back home after a 42 year exile) and Montreal jazz singer Ranee Lee.

I admire this couple and their tireless efforts to present this festival at arm's lenght.  When the 2010 earthquake devastated the city, the 4th PAP Jazz (that's how it's called by insiders and locally) was just ending and eternal fatalists we'rent very positive about the future of the festival, or the country, to say it all. But that didn't take in account Joel Widmaier's stubbornness, worthy successor of family very much involved in Haïti's media and the broacasting of music, ex-drummer of a iconic haïtian group, legendary but now defunct group Zèklè.  The Festival not only survived the earthquake, it has prospered, to the greatest delight of music-lovers and of those who were hoping Haïti would stand up and continue its slow progress and efforts under the raging tropical sun.

For the first time this year, PAP Jazz is honoring a guest country, Mexico, represented by Troker, a Guadalajara band that happily plays a mix of funk, rock, hip-hop, electronica and jazz improvisations on a mariachi music background. Truly international, PAP Jazz is admirably eclectic, with the presence of the american fusion jazz cult-group The Yellowjackets, presented on opening night of the Parc Historique de la Canne à Sucre, Saturday, January 17th, in a triple bill with Troker and Chardavoine. Like any self-respecting festival, PAP Jazz offers festival-goers musical discoveries. Personnaly, I'm happy to have seen and heard for the first time belgian pianist Igor Gehenot and trinidadian trumpeter Étienne Charles (champion of truly caribbean jazz) as well as local artists such as saxophonist Ti Sax or bassist Gérald Kébreau. It was great to applaud great saxophonist Jowee Omicil, guest soloist of the closing concert of mythical konpa group Tabou Combo,  Sunday, January 25th, at Place Saint-Pierre.

Among the must-be-said highlights of the event,  Ranee Lee and Chardavoine at Fokal, Laurent de Wilde's concert at l’Institut Français with a spectacular ending mixing up contemporary jazz and Follow Jah's rara carnival music. And the surprise set Étienne Charles gave at the Quartier Latin a few hours after the rain interrupted his concert at Hôtel Karibé.  And there was Joël Widmaier, transfigured, regenerated, playing the percussions and getting into the moment.

You know, in a certain way, the song isn't that far off : Ayiti cheri
Impressions of the 9th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince by Stanley Péan, of ICI Musique (special collaboration).
January 17 to 24 janvier, 2015 (photos :  Josué Azor and Stanley Péan)

Emotions, jazz and music at the 8th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince (2014), plus a few videos.

animation PAP2My participation at the Festival International de Jazz de PAP (Port-au-Prince) in January 2014 has been quite an emotional experience for me. Such joy of living and courage, considering all the events that this country has been thru, and in the cultural context of jazz and great music are touching and have impressed me.The moment you land, you're faced with the difficulties and huge challenges they're going thru, but nonetheless, a lot of positive things are happening, life is improving and the music lives on and shines!

Some favorites and great discoveries, such as charismatic haitian singer James Germain, a gospel feeling, haitian roots, great arrangements by his trustworthy sidekick, guitarist Marco Quesada. The crowd was enthousiastic for this free concert at Fokal, an important PAP cultural venue. Message to Montreal/Quebec promoters : book this man !!!

In an instrumental vein, great haitian composer/pianist Réginald Policard was the Hôtel el Rancho, an upscale venue and certainly the trendiest of nights of the Festival, for some great haitian jazz that all recognised with top haitian jazz musicians. He preceeded Benin-born guitarist/vocalist/composer Lionel Loueke that once again blew us away with his amazing ability to blend West African music, jazz, guitar, voice and a refined use of technology. The pacing of this night was the best so far with in 1st part great (and all-around nice guy) swiss trumpeter Daniel Shenker that played his own brand of europeen-flavored jazz influenced by Brazil, Africa and of course, America.

I have to mention Follow Jah, a carnavalesque haitian band made up of fifteen young musicians playing a variety of percussions, and many variations of something that could look like the south-african vuvuzela, but much nicer to listen to, that kept the crowd movin' and shakin' in between the band changes at Fokal. Wow !

Our video crop from the Festival, 16 of them !

Page YouTube vidéos SJN au Festival PAP 2014_v2.gif

On ti bo by Strings at Fokal, click here
La azotea by Stromboli Trio at Fokal, click here
Bon tan se mwen, move tan se mwen by Claude Carré at Fokal, click here
Straight As An Arrow
by Hiram Gomez at Fokal, click here
Yon jou by Josué Alexis at Fokal, click here
Santeria by Nadège Tippenhauer at Fokal, click here
Toc Toc Toc by Sandra NKaké at the Parc Historique de la Canne à Sucre, click here
Pote Bambou by Bwakoré at Place Boyer, click here
This Here
by Pascal Mohy at Fokal, click here
by Lionel Loueke at El Rancho, click here
Rivière Froide by Réginald Policard at El Rancho, click here
Jardin Bonatico by Daniel Schenker at El Rancho, click here
All Blues by Julie Michels at the Parc Historique de la Canne à Sucre, cliquez ici
Follow Jah
a Fokal, click here
Yoyo by Willerm Delisfort at the Parc Historique de la Canne à Sucre, click here
Manje Ranje, music by James Gemain, texts by haïtian poet James Noël at Fokal, click here

In conclusion, and once again, here's 3 reasons why you should attend the Festival PAP  2015 :

1) hear some of the best jazz on the planet
2) discover great jazz from Haïti
3) support Haïti

For more info : / January 18-25, 2014

Photography by Alain Mercier (Thanks!)
Video by Claude Thibault.

Claude Thibault

Brief testimony of a music lover from abroad at the 8th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince (2014)

animation Alain Mercier Festival PAP 2014.gifLast January 18 to 25 2014, a great thing happened in my life. I was invited at the 8th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince brilliantly led by local business woman Milena Sandler and man of many many talents Joël Widmaier. Both come artistic families. Milena is the daughter of singer Marie-Clotilde ‘’Toto’’ Bissainthe. Joel is the son of Herby Widmaier, singer, radio man and founder of Radio Métropole (Haïti).

The couple have surrounded themselves with a lot of talent in order to present one of the best PAP jazz fests ever. Once again this year jazz is in it's many shapes and forms...

Creole jazz : Josué Alexis, Bwakoré, Réginald Policard, Mushy Widmaier;
Modern jazz : Willerm Delisfort, Daniel Schenker, Pascal Mohy, Stromboli Trio, Jochem Ruckert, Claude Carré;
Fusion jazz : Hiram Gomez;
African jazz : Lionel Loueké;
Gypsy jazz : Swing Brosse System;
Pop jazz : Julie Michels;

But also :

Traditional music : James Germain, Nadège Tippenhauer;
New Orléans jazz : The Soul Rebels;
Art rock : Sandra N’Kaké;
Tropical flamenco : Strings;
And Follow Jah, a percussion group that plays rara already in a Carnaval mood, just a few weeks away.

Jazz could be hear in Port-au-Prince restaurants, hotels, and shopping centres. That could be one of the reasons crowds were large at the Parc Historique de la Canne à sucre, the El Rancho Hotel, Place Boyer, the Institut Français and particurlarly the Centre culturel Fokal where the hundreds of concert-goers grew daily. The public's enthousiasm impressed me. The desire to hear new sounds from the music planet was obvious on the faces of the many participants. The crowd was mixed and diversified as many came from all over the area to participate in the Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince.

It isn't just the public that got something out of the Festival but the local and international artists thanks to the many connections happening at the daily morning masterclasses and at the Festival itself.  Each concert night ended with some great jam sessions at the Quartier Latin, the Garden Studio, and the always full Yanvalou.

Jazz is alive and well in Port-au-Prince ! Congrats to the organisers of the 8th Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince that have kept the temperature rising since 2007.

Photos by Alain Mercier.

Alain Mercier
Divertissement Mercier

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