Wednesday, 16 September 2020
Last of the Retour to Haiti with Gerald Merceron in Haiti Insolite, Kako 1915 (Unusual Aspects of Haitian Music)
Here is what I assume to be the last of this series of Haitian jazz/fusion albums related to the brilliant and unknown Gerald Merceron. Of course, there may always be more albums not entered yet in the database that will turn up later, it always surprises me when that happens--though it shouldn't by now. In terms of this blog, a search function just might work for you here, though it has been problematic for me for the oldest posts from probably more than 5 years back.
It all started about that far back when I discovered the Kote Ou album from Mushi Widmaier-- posted here, an album which remains for me one of the most underrated unknown masterpieces in the world. I bought an original LP from 1982 for less than 100 USD and couldn't believe it when I saw it selling in the hundreds about 2-3 years later. Subesequently of course you can see a rerelease came out in 2017, so anyone can hear the beauty of the music. Nonetheless, I'm sure the original release will remain a collector's item and thus appropriately priced. Mushi produced some more music that can be found and sampled on amazon, here, or here on youtube. Anyways, that LP led to the Energie Mysterieuse one from 1979 with involvement and most compositions from Merceron, and that one was unquestionably brilliant too, especially in the melding together of classical and fusion, and the really oddball and original melodic lines Merceron was able to come up with, like magic, as I always say, compared to the average songwriter facing a piano or guitar and coming up with a circle of fifths progression or even worse, a mixture of I, IV, V, maybe the II minor.
As a result of the strength of that one I resolved to collect all the remaining albums, there was an original Jazz Compositions from Haiti which proved generically disappointing, and was posted the most recent, 2 years ago, then the brilliant Tet San Ko in which the nutty imaginative songwriting technique just went through the roof, out of the ballpark, and the follow up one called Bokassa Grotraka that made fun of the cannabilistic dictator or Napoleonic 'emperor' of Central African Republic-- a story so crazy that you have to read it on wikipedia to believe it. Mention should also be made of the solo album of Lionel Benjamin, who sang on almost all the releases, including this one.
This is the rarest by far of the 5 related albums from Merceron, and quite indisputably the worst, being mostly regular jazz. Information here. Sigh-- a recurring problem when I try to complete these discographies, necessary as it is. The first track is one of the wonderful crazy melodies typical of Merceron, but the second half of side a is a purely improvised solo piece that seems to me a little self-indulgent. The second side as I said is given over to the generic jazz in quartet format.
Here is the first track, the title track:
The blurb on the front:
Modern classical music art songs and jazz themes composed by Gerald Merceron, played by Brazilian, American, Haitian and French musicians
This record includes "Criar" with lyrics by Agostinho Netto, late president of Angola, music composed played and sung by Gerald Merceron